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Families tour new Longboat Key Fire Rescue facility

A Longboat parents group spent the morning at Fire Station 92 for a hands-on learning experience.

Greysun Gross-Hendel tests the power of the water hose.
Greysun Gross-Hendel tests the power of the water hose.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer
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A children’s trip to tour a firehouse is rare on Longboat Key. 

But on Jan. 15, members of the “Longboat Key Moms (& Dads)” Facebook group met at the Longboat Key Fire Station 92 to spend the morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day meeting the crew. 

A group of about 20 showed up, with eight kids in attendance. They ranged from a couple months to a couple years old. 

The tour was mainly led by Lt. Jose Rivera and firefighter-paramedic Brian Kolsea and began right as a medical call was dispatched for other crew members to attend to.

Kolsea shared with the group that he grew up on Longboat, living on the island for most of his early childhood. 

First, the two took the group inside the newer fire station. Opened in 2021, the station was designed by Sweet Sparkman Architects. It was nominated for a People’s Choice Award from the Florida Foundation for Architecture in 2023, and it showed.

The kids, and their parents, were impressed by the station, specifically the fully equipped kitchen and weight room. 

Outside, the firefighter-paramedics showed an ambulance and all of the medical equipment inside. An interesting feature, Kolsea explained, was one of the medical packs that has equipment all tailored for specific age groups — needles and tubes sized appropriately for each age range. 

Parents and kids alike marvel at the truck's tall ladder, and an osprey that chose to make a stop on top.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Also parked in the garage was the department’s high-water vehicle. This allows the department to respond to calls during flood events, something Kolsea said they’ve used several times in the last six months. 

Then came all the kids’ favorite part: the fire truck. 

Kolsea and the crew showed kids the department's new, electric-powered Jaws of Life, deployed the truck’s 75-foot ladder and let everyone take turns using the hose. 

Ruthie Ball tries out the fire hose.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Despite a light drizzle, the families made the most of the morning field trip. 

“This was great, this was a nice turnout,” said Elise Kidd Slansky. Kidd Slansky is mother of 16-month-old Blaire, and is the one running the Facebook group. 

With the group, she hopes to get a similar trip planned for the police station, as well as continuing to attend the Pop-Up Library events every first and third Tuesday of the month. 

Brian Kolsea shows the group equipment from the ambulance.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Morgan Bellante is from Sarasota, but heard of the group through a mutual friend. She said it’s been a great resource to connect with others trying to find things to do with kids. 

“It’s cool to have a community of moms and dads in the area, and to be included in things like this,” Bellante said. 



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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