The Aircraft Rescue Firefighting vehicle picked up speed and headed west in front of the Bob Hope Airport fire station Thursday morning while a crowd of youngsters waited patiently.
Then, as it reached the group, it sprayed water over their heads, igniting shrieks of delight as the youngsters threw their hands up into the air and ran this way and that.
The kids were from the Summer Daze Express camp run by the Burbank Parks Recreation and Community Services out of Robert Gross Park, just down the street from the airport.
It was the fourth year the group has been invited for an exclusive visit to the airport to see the operations of the police and fire departments on the grounds.
There’s a longtime association between Robert Gross Park and the airport, said Lucy Burghdorf, airport community relations manager.
“The park used to be owned by Lockheed Aircraft, and when Lockheed left Burbank it donated the park to the city of Burbank,” she said.
Burghdorf was approached by Ernest Seiler, senior recreation leader for the city’s parks department, to have the youngsters add the airport to its field trip schedule.
“It’s one of their most favorite field trips that the camp does,” Burghdorf said. “It’s a way to reach out to the kids and teach them about the airport and careers at the airport. “There might be future pilots or operations managers or baggage handlers among them.”
Sitting in one of the airplane hangars that the airport uses for its fire station headquarters, more than 25 youngsters listened as employees from Southwest Airlines talked about their jobs as ticket agent, baggage handler and operations manager.
They learned the importance of calculating the weight of people and baggage so the pilot can safely fly the jetliner.
Camper Ricky Guerrero was called up to help demonstrate how to bring a plane into the loading area using two orange sticks.
Counselor David Montero pretended he was the aircraft while Ricky pointed the sticks to the left then the right, then made a circle and crossed the sticks, signaling the aircraft had made it safely into the docking area.
“The youngsters see how many departments and jobs there are at the airport and how many people work to get the plane up in the air,” he said. “Every year they want to go back to Bob Hope Airport. They love to see the Fire Department and Police Department.”
Fire Department Capt. Marc Domingo said he had started his shift on Wednesday and wouldn’t go home until Friday.
“Our workday is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he said. “We make sure the equipment works and do inspections on the fire trucks and buildings. If we get an emergency, we have to get in our trucks and go.”
Firefighter Mike Sanchez demonstrated how they get into their fireproof clothing and mask in 90 seconds.
To save time, “We keep our pants tucked in our boots,” Domingo said.
The children counted as Sanchez put on the silver jacket, pulled up the pants, placed the mask over his face and attached the hose to the oxygen tank on his back. He finished in 74 seconds.
“He looks like a big baked potato,” Domingo said, referring to the silver fireproof jacket.
The firefighter has to keep his attention on the oxygen level to make sure he has enough to get out of the building before the air runs out, Domingo said.
Youngsters also saw rescue equipment, such as the drills and saws to get people out of burning aircraft.
At the end of the tour, campers ate lunch in another airplane hangar a couple of yards away from the police helicopter.
Jason Lapeze, 10, a fifth-grader at Walt Disney Elementary School, were impressed with what they saw.
“We got to go to many areas not too many people go to,” Jason said. “We went into the hangar, got sprayed by a fire truck, and we’re having lunch in an air hangar. It’s a very exclusive tour.”
Camp counselor Justin Butler said the tour was a great experience, especially because John Burroughs High School has an aviation program.
“Maybe they will want to take classes in high school and go into aviation careers,” he said.
Callum Campbell, 10, another fifth-grader at Walt Disney Elementary, was impressed at how aviation has advanced over the years.
“We get a good look at it here,” he said. “It’s almost like a small city. We heard lots of information on emergency services.”