By Tamas Mondovics

With displays, giveaways and fun activities and the hopes of sparking some interest at an early age in fire rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews were out in force at the Winthrop Arts Festival last month, welcoming area children to the annual Junior Firefighter Challenge.

HCFR set up its Junior Firefighter Challenge arena at 1206 Millennium Pkwy., in Brandon, which allowed the children to practice activities mimicking real firefighters that included donning slightly smaller firefighting gear, pulling, hooking up and spraying hoses.

The children also took part on running an obstacle course as well as pulling a mannequin “victim” out of harm’s way.

“The purpose of this was to gain interest at a young age in fire rescue and also to teach fire and life safety to citizens of Hillsborough County,” said HCFR spokesman, Ronnie Rivera.

While the younger crowd took part in the challenge, older ones had a chance to learn about fire safety, and fire awareness especially with the current weather conditions being conducive for brush fires that have been plaguing southeastern Hillsborough County in recent weeks.

“We had several fire trucks for attendees to explore and handed out fire safety materials and other items to help residents appreciate the importance of fire safety,” Rivera said.

For more information, please visit the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue at


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