Mich. FFs deliver birthday wishes to homes amid COVID-19 lockdown

Chelsea firefighters have gone to nearly 20 homes to help residents celebrate after their birthday plans were canceled due to the crisis

Nathan Clark
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

CHELSEA, Mich. — Hanna Brodeur planned on spending her 21st birthday out on the town, but a global pandemic put a stop to that.

“I had planned, as many others do for their 21st birthday, on going out with friends and partying, that is until this pandemic hit and I realized (my birthday) was going to be much more different than what I thought it was going to be,” she said.

Making the best of things, Brodeur, a junior at Eastern Michigan University studying criminal justice, put on a sparkling gold party dress and celebrated her birthday Saturday, March 28, at home with her family.

Shortly after her mother coaxed her outside for a few birthday photos, Brodeur was surprised when a Chelsea Area Fire Authority fire truck rolled down her street and stopped in front of her home.

Then came the singing. A group of firefighters belted “Happy Birthday” to Brodeur in front of her home.

“I was a little suspicious of my mom when she wanted me to go outside in my dress to take a few birthday photos, then I saw the fire truck and wondered what was really going on,” Brodeur said laughing.

Since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a “stay home” order earlier this month to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the Chelsea Area Fire Authority has been taking birthday requests from residents in their fire coverage area as a way to help the community stay positive during stressful times, Fire Chief Robert Arbini said.

“One of our guys saw a fire department in Illinois doing birthday calls and we felt we could do it here too, so we just rolled with it,” Arbini said. “We don’t stay very long as we want to maintain good social distancing and we’re still on call, but we want to do our parts to keep people’s spirits up while continuing to serve the community.”

Since it started taking birthday calls for service, the Chelsea Area Fire Authority has responded to 19 homes, with many more lined up in the coming weeks, Arbini said.

“We really want to give these kids a good experience on their birthday, since everyone is stuck at home and they can’t spend time with their friends,” Arbini said.

The department plans on continuing the birthday calls for school-aged children up to age 18 until April 30.

Though Brodeur was celebrating her 21st birthday, firefighters decided to make an exception that one and only time, because they felt her three young siblings would enjoy and appreciate the visit, Arbini said.

The department has had to turn down 30 birthday calls as they were not in the department’s coverage area of Chelsea, Lima Township, Lyndon Township and Sylvan Township.


©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.


Happy 21st Hannah!

Posted by Chelsea Fire Fighters on Friday, March 27, 2020


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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