PRAIRIE CREEK, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Over the past few years, Prairieton Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Dempsey has been considering several different options to have his department interact closely with the public.

On Saturday, he got his wish– and he was happily surprised with the success.

The Prairieton Fire Department greeted dozens of community members during their free pancake breakfast on Saturday, allowing residents to meet the firefighters and see some of their equipment up close.

Given snow overnight, Dempsey was unsure of the turnout– but it didn’t take an hour until his expectations were passed.

“We started at 9:00 this morning and I think by 9:30, a quarter until 10, we were already going back out for more supplies,” he said.  “Not knowing what was going to happen, we had a real good turnout for the first time around.”

Dempsey said they had a helicopter on display for part of the morning, along with a fire truck from the Honey Creek Fire Department. He said the motivation behind the event was to show people behind the scenes of what they do. 

“Trying to get the public and letting them know we are actually still here, that we do service them. Kind of a meet and greet with the general public,” Dempsey said. “They get to see the equipment, the trucks, we had a ladder truck here from Honey Creek [Fire Department], we had a helicopter sitting out back, so the kids and parents could take a tour of the helicopter.”

He was also happy to see children taking an interest in what they do.    

“Kids nowadays don’t come around the fire stations like they used to. All they see is the big red truck go down the street or something like that, so they are always curious as to what it is,” he said. “This just made a public awareness day for them to come in, and actually see it, enjoy breakfast, talk to the firefighters that are here.”

Dempsey said they hope to host a similar event in Prairieton close to the start of next year school year. He also mentioned Fairbanks Volunteer Fire Department in Sullivan County will host a similar event next Saturday.