Firefighter Joe Kovacic, 46, drew cheers from the crowd as he jumped off a station garage roof – a good 25 feet off the ground – and landed safely in a 9-foot-tall inflated rescue air cushion that the department uses to catch would-be suicides threatening to jump from bridges and people trapped in building fires. For more realism, Kovacic flailed his arms a bit as he jumped, but tucked into a “cannonball” position before he hit the bag so he landed on his back, instead of legs first. Parents and children watched, wide-eyed, as firefighters took off the roof and doors of two cars using the “Jaws of Life” and showed how a tool about the size of a ballpoint pen could shatter a car’s windows in an instant to help firefighters reach a trapped victim inside. Jessica Vincent, 33, of Sylmar, said she brought daughters Mikayla, 4, and Kyandra, 10, to the open house because she believes police and firefighters don’t get the credit they deserve. “I don’t want my little girl to be afraid,” said Vincent, a preschool principal. “What if we get into an accident and the firefighters have to get her out? You never know these days.” [email protected] (818) 713-3663160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsFor 2-year-old Xander Tralins, of Sherman Oaks, the trip to the fire station – including getting to climb on one of the firetrucks – “was better than Disneyland,” said father Keith Tralins. “He loves any emergency vehicles,” added Xander’s mother, Jennifer Tralins. “It’s good to get out in the community – kids need to be aware of everything (emergency personnel) do to keep us safe.” It was hard to tell who was having more fun Saturday – the youngsters in their plastic firefighter hats and badges, or their parents, who peppered the firefighters with dozens of questions about equipment, firefighting and rescue operations and training. “Isn’t it wonderful, all the things they do?” marveled 78-year-old Maxine Marracino of Woodland Hills, who came to see her grandson, Explorer Vincent Yarumian, 16, also of Woodland Hills. She was particularly impressed by the helicopter water-drop demonstration: “I was amazed at how close to the ground they got.” SHERMAN OAKS – Dressed in a dainty pink dress, 4-year-old Samantha Dea happily rattled off the names of Disney princess-heroines, but her current career goal is a bit more unexpected. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a firefighter, because then I’ll get to hold the hose,” Samantha said, after taking a turn doing just that Saturday at an open house at Station No. 88 in Sherman Oaks. All across Los Angeles on Saturday, neighborhood fire stations held open houses for Fire Service Recognition Day, welcoming the public to learn more about their work. A few of the larger stations, including No. 88, hosted more elaborate demonstrations by hazardous-materials units, urban search and rescue teams and more. With the help of Los Angeles City Fire Department Explorer Juan Zepeda, 21, of Van Nuys, Samantha got to hold a real fire hose and direct a stream of water at a target, and then shut it off as beaming parents Jerry and Coco Dea of Sherman Oaks watched.
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