PALMER — The last day of the Alaska State Fair was called First Responders Day, celebrating the men and women who answer the call to save lives across the state.

“The cops and the firefighters and the EMT’s, they all stand in the same light,” Dan Tucker, Director of Emergency Services at 1-800-BOARDUP of Alaska, said.

Several Alaskan firefighters, including some from Palmer, participated in the fair’s first Kids Firefighter Challenge at the Corral.

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The kids ran drills similar to real training exercises used by firefighters. They ran through several kinds of obstacles, crawling through tubes, climbing up and sliding down an inflatable slide and they even got to shoot water from a real firehose.

Six-year-old Nathan Dunn said the event was, “awesome.” His mother Sarah Dunn and other relatives excitedly cheered him on from the bleachers. When Nathan was finished, Sarah said she was very proud of him. She said he’s very active boy and he’s apt to do anything physical.

“It’s a great event,” Sarah said.

Sarah’s father is a retired fireman so she knows firsthand what goes into the job. She said this event is a fun way for the kids to get to know the firefighters and what they do. She noted the first responders theme should always be a part of the fair experience.

“We love our firemen and we’re thankful for them,” Sarah said. “The fair should always show their gratitude to first responders. We know how hard their job can be.”

Another firefighting event for adults followed suit at the grandstands, the Firefighter Water Wars. Inside the same stadium used for monster trucks, Alaskan firefighters competed against each other with their bright red firetrucks and high powered hoses.

1-800-BoardUp launched these annual firefighter events at the fair to mingle with the community and raise funds for the Alaska State Firefighters Association and Palmer Volunteer Fire Association.

1-800-BoardUp is a national organization that provides around-the-clock emergency restoration services for fire, water and storm damage. They offer a range of victims’ services depending on the need, working symbiotically with other groups like the American Red Cross to get people back on their feet after losing their homes.

Tucker drives around with baby formula, diapers, snacks, toiletries and other essential items at the ready. He readily helps people get back into their homes and everything in between.

“I start putting their life back together as soon as I contact them,” Tucker said.

Tucker said fundraising events like the Kids Firefighter Challenge is an appropriate way to coordinate with the First Responder’s Day activities and get the kids involved. He said it’s a good chance to pay tribute to the men and women who make sacrifices on a daily basis.

“Who do you call when your wall falls apart? The first responders,” Tucker said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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