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Crowds awed by 20th Annual Viejas Fire Expo/Firefighter Demo Derby

The San Diego County Fair is always a fun experience, but when firefighters are added, the excitement of the annual event is increased exponentially. This was evident as men, women and children flocked to the Viejas Fire Expo and Firefighter Demolition Derby on June 19.

Firefighters stood with their boots in hand at the entrances of the fairgrounds asking for donations for a valiant cause, indicating that the fair indeed had been infiltrated by San Diego County’s finest. The Chevrolet Del Mar Arena at the fairgrounds was home base for the event, which was meant to highlight the latest in emergency services, educate the public and raise awareness about fire and burn prevention.

Funds collected by sponsors and boot collections (money donated to firemen by guests who placed cash in their boots) were donated to the local Burn Institute programs and survivor support services, including Camp Beyond the Scars, a special camp for burn-injured children.

Everyone attending the fair was able to partake in the special events, as the expo and demo derby were included with the general fair admission. Children and adults were treated to a fire gel systems demonstration; an exciting Burn Run Parade that showcased the county’s fire engines, flashing lights and all; vehicle fire demonstrations from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District; an exciting rappelling demonstration off of five stories with the help of Del Mar Lifeguards and Solana Beach Fire Department; a K-9 Dog unit demo by the Chula Vista Police Department; and a concert by JinxKing.

The K-9 attack dog demo was definitely one of the more popular attractions at the Fire Expo. During the demo, the audience got to watch how the dogs, which were placed in their human partners’ cars until they were required to “attack” the perpetrator, were quickly able to come to the rescue and help slow down any individual who tried to defy the police force. These dogs were fast, tough and ready to help their partners in any way possible. Everyone nearby had to stop and watch these animals in action.

The Firefighter Demolition Derby, which was presented by the San Diego County Credit Union as a benefit for the Burn Institute, was also a hit with crowds. Fire departments from all over the county displayed their customized clunkers that they painted themselves in order to “smash for cash” to benefit the Burn Institute. The engines roared as the firefighters showed off their emergency driving skills and maneuverability tactics during the derby.

In between the presentations, emergency service booths, fire safety trailers, fire engines and rigs were all available for guests to view. There was plenty of information for curious visitors to gather on fire safety, the burn institute and the various individuals that comprised the Fire Expo.

The kids had a particularly fun time dressing up in real firefighter gear, doing miniature fire drills, and learning Stop, Drop & Roll. Single gals definitely had to enjoy helping out the firefighters gain money for the Burn Institute by posing for photos with the various firefighters, and the men in uniform seemed more than willing to make the sacrifice.

All in all, the experience was a great time for all. Hopefully, next year’s Fire Expo will have just as much adventure and excitement for the county.

To further support the Burn Institute, take part in the Fire on the Fairways Golf Tournament in Chula Vista, or go to

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