The Best Thing I’ve Done to Restore My Faith in Humanity

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG)  |  Commentary by Samantha Gassman
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Jake learns from a Dixon firefighter buddy. “The open house represented more than a trip to the firehouse… I[t] was … something to show me that there are still good people and good causes in the world.” Photo provided by Samantha Gassman


Attending the Local Fire Department’s Open House




In a time when everything we hear about in the world is worrying and disappointing, I needed something to restore my faith in humanity.

When the Dixon Fire Department announced their open house, I was drawn to it. I couldn’t explain why, but I knew we needed to go.

No one in my family is a firefighter. But there’s something about the wailing sirens, the conspicuous, gleaming trucks and the brave souls who run toward danger that make my heart all twitterpated. Especially here where every summer, there have been more frequent and ferocious fires, I have the greatest respect for those who battle them. Plus, my 3-year old son, Jacob, rushes to the window every time a blaring fire engine roars by the house.

To me, this open house represented more than a trip to the firehouse. I was looking for something positive to cling to and hold. Something to break up the monotony of work, worry, repeat. Something to show me that there are still good people and good causes in the world. 

When my family and I arrived, Dixon FD did not disappoint. It was love at first sight — for the kids and for me.

The first thing I noticed was the bright red helicopter. Then, a ladder soaring 6 stories up, sticking out the top of a neon-green fire truck. Police cars. A K9 with his handler. An ambulance. Firefighters helping kids in and out of trucks.

“Can I go inside the fire truck, Mommy?” my son asked, pleading with his puppy-dog eyes.

“You have to ask the firefighters first, honey,” I said.

Before I knew it, he had scampered off, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Can I go inside your fire truck, please? Can I? Please, please, please?”

As we were checking out the trucks, we heard a loud, whirring noise. My son sprinted to where the other families were gathered and pointing.

“The helicopter!” he screamed. He watched in awe as the blades spun faster and faster, then lifted off the ground. The downdraft blew a wave of dust and rocks, and we turned to shield our eyes.

After wiping the grime from his face, my son peered up into the sky.

“Awesome!” he exclaimed, as he watched it thump-thump-thump away.

Jake chatted up every firefighter, police officer and medic in the lot. They patiently answered all his questions and let him explore the insides of the trucks he had only seen up close in their LEGO form. My son and the other kids were likely making hours worth of work and clean-up for these crews. They didn’t seem to mind.

The giant garage doors to the station were open and inside there were several tables set up. On one, cupcakes. At another, smiling firefighters handing out goodie bags and plastic helmets.

“Would you like your very own firefighter helmet, buddy?” one of the firemen asked.

“Yes please,” he said, then paused thoughtfully, “and one for my sissy.”

My heart grew three sizes as he ducked underneath the stroller canopy and attempted to place the helmet on his 1-year old sister’s head. She squealed with glee at the sight of her brother, then promptly put the helmet in her mouth.

My son glanced at me, then turned back to the firefighter.

“And one for my mommy too?”

“Sure!” he said.

I knelt down and let Jake place the plastic firefighter helmet on my head.

“There you go, mommy,” he beamed.

In that brief exchange, I was happy — warmed by my son’s compassion for his family and his enthusiasm for life. I’m guessing the firefighter didn’t join the department so he could entertain kids on a Saturday afternoon. Yet, there he was. Handing out stickers and helmets to kids. Answering their never-ending “why” questions. And letting them climb all over his equipment.




That’s what we found at the firehouse.

Samantha Gassman is a senior communications professional for Northrop Grumman. She is also a freelance writer and picture book author whose debut book, DEAR RAINBOW BABY, will be published in Spring 2022. She and her military family have lived in Dixon since Summer 2020 and will get to enjoy one more year here before the Air Force moves them again.