Calgary Fire Department surprises boy whose birthday party was cancelled due to COVID-19

Copperfield boy gets big birthday surprise from Calgary Fire Department after his party gets cancelled by coronavirus

Four-year-old Copperfield resident, Luke Seegmiller, got a big birthday surprise from the Calgary Fire Department. CONTRIBUTED

Calgary kids’ birthday parties are almost non-existent during the coronavirus pandemic, but Calgary firefighters were able to brighten the day on Monday for one city four-year-old.

Now, the overwhelming response to the recent engine visit to the southeast community of Copperfield has turned into a new program that city firefighters hope will continue to drive community spirit during COVID-19 – Operation Birthday.

Luke Seegmiller, 4, had to cancel his birthday like so many others across the city. His mom Elizabeth still wanted the day to be special for her little guy.

She’d heard of the engine ride-bys before, so she reached out to the Calgary Fire Department to see if they could do one for Luke.

The program – Drive-by birthdays – is open to Calgary kids four to 12 years old, and for those ‘kids’ over 75 years of age. Visit calgary.ca/birthdaysurprise to register

Elizabeth didn’t initially get a response back, but a friend of a friend had some fire department contacts eventually it got back to the firefighters at Station 30.

“They had called and said, ‘yeah we’d love to come by sometime after lunch and say happy birthday,’” she said.

They did warn Elizabeth that unlike other Calgary Fire Department visits, Luke wouldn’t be able to be up on the truck for current coronavirus public health reasons.

In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, she understood.

Double fire truck birthday salute to Luke

The crew from Station 30 more than made up for the lack of a personal tour.

On Monday, they drove up with two trucks, including one of ladder trucks. They extended the ladder out to the family’s front porch and there was a box taped to it. Inside was a stuffed animal and colouring books – and a sign that said, “Happy Birthday Luke.”

“They just went way above and beyond what I expected,” Elizabeth said.

“I thought it would be like a quick drive by and wave out the window and say hello.”

Elizabeth was overwhelmed with the amount of planning and people it would have taken to do this. Between eight to 10 firefighters attended. They even dropped the stabilizers to the street to unfurl the ladder.

“I was doing everything I could to not start bawling because I just thought it was so, so special and it was just so awesome for them to go through that much work to plan it,” she said.

And Luke’s response?

“He was thrilled,” said Elizabeth.

She said they filmed the whole thing and Luke watched the video repeatedly.

Filling the neighbourhood with community spirit

While Luke was the guest of honour, other neighbourhood kids got to share in the excitement. Elizabeth said they scattered colouring books behind the truck as it departed. Kids scurried to the corner to grab a book and then head back to their porches.

It’s important at this difficult time for many to have something to take their mind off things, she said.

“I think it’s a nice distraction, and especially for the kids that have had to cancel their birthday parties and not go to school,” Elizabeth said.

“I feel like in a kid’s perspective, their school is closed or daycare’s closed, they can’t see their friends, parks are closed – that’s like their whole world.

“So for something like that, just to be special for them, I think is pretty important.”

Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said they wanted to make this available to all Calgary kids.

“As I say it started from very organic roots. And we really want to keep it as organic feeling as possible as we move forward with this,” Chief Dongworth said.

“But we want to give every Calgary the opportunity to have the same service.”

Dongworth did say that it’s always good for parents to keep it a surprise, because they may not always be able to get there if they get a priority call.

About Darren Krause 597 Articles
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8 Comments

  1. Sadly just shows how much time these guys have on their hands, LOTS! Great PR, but I’d rather pay less on my taxes for an overpriced fire dept that does very little. Its unfortunately a misconception of this fire dept that they are integral to medical first response. I’m a 25yr medic in Calgary, who can tell you they’re not! They have almost zero medical training, and on about 98% of our calls, they are zero help. They dont even assist with lifting patients in emergency situations? Which happens to be one of the few reasons we as medics saw them as an asset. Since Covid started, they changed their policy and refused to go into calls, yeah, really helping out! Now they’ve decided to go in again as it was not received well by the public. Unfortunately we paramedics are run off our feet, almost 100% utilization, while firefighters are still barely leaving their halls, maybe 1-2 hrs of work in a 10-14hr shift, if you dont include grocery shopping! The PR is great, but their usefulness certainly isn’t. I wish they would start working for all that money they’re being paid. Actually the government needs to properly resource EMS, and the city should cut back on these fire halls full of fire fighters playing pickle ball, sleeping, watching tv and working on their second jobs. It’s a disgrace….

    • too bad for you ….don’t cry, apply…. not their problem you took the only job you were qualified for….

    • Josh P

      I find it it incredibly sad your comments on the fire department. To me it sounds like your jealous and failed on your attempt to become one. Firefighters and medics are two totally different careers however your obviously failing to see that. I am assuming due to your lack of education and narrow mindedness. Medics are here to stabilize and transfer patients to the hospital where they wait until that patient can attain the properly educated medical help or authority they require. You signed up for that why complain. Firefighters obviously don’t have the medical training you do nor do they want it I assume however they are here for other reasons that you fail to see. Yes they have down time like you and all the office workers out there too. I believe you fail to see the difference and if your unhappy with your career choice I suggest going to get an education over and above the 2yrs you have to become a higher medical authority if that’s what’s you choose…although I would assume if you attained better grades in school you would already be there and not at the bottom of the medical totem pole complaining like you are. This isn’t a time for complaining or judging other careers it’s a time to support everyone. I hope you see the light one day because life is too short to be miserable like yourself.

  2. CFD really needs to rethink this idea – PR is one thing, but let’s be realistic on what this cost. Full crew and two trucks = a very expensive birthday party.

  3. I was “alarmed” yesterday. Living on a corner lot, fire trucks pulled up blaring their sirens.Of course I think this is an emergency.They pulled up to the front of the house sirens blaring. We thought their was an emergency incident My heart was racing for a birthday greeting?.During these stressful times,there should be no sirens upsetting the neighborhood for gratuitous reasons. What is the cost to taxpayers and why are they running out extra fuel during a “climate emergency”. Taxes are going up.Stop this rediculous money and resource waste!!!

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