You better hold onto your hats, folks, because we’re heading off to our next museum stop, The Francis X. Pendl Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center. Admission and exhibits are separately charged at the museum, but it is housed in the hangars of the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, Long Island, New York

On the outside, the museum seems smaller than it really is, but the exhibits surprised me. It had something for everyone, including children.

Are you and your family prepared in case of an emergency and have a place to meet if you need to leave the house quickly? Have your children been instructed not to hide in the event of a fire, and has your house number been made visible and clear to all? (Ours wasn't) 

You need to come down here as soon as possible if you replied no to these questions or are unclear about them. It's all good fun here with your family, but one visit might save a life.

Being a museum and extensive education center, the facility will certainly offer you valuable insight into emergency preparedness, while allowing you to see firsthand how fires were fought in the past with their historical apparatuses and memorabilia. Presently on display are numerous replica fire engines, including a 1952 Ward LaFrance Blitzlight Truck. This truck was used in the Manhasset area from 1950 through 19705. An exhibit of miniature Dalmatians fascinated my daughter. It has been demonstrated that Dalmations were traditionally used as fire dogs because they made excellent companions for horses and could clear the way so horses could proceed swiftly through busy streets. Dalmatians are still used in firehouses today as mascots as a nod to the service they performed in the past.

Dedicated to the 18 men and women from Nassau County fire departments who lost their lives on that terrible day, a 9/11 Memorial was established in 2011. Children can visit this exhibition even though it is quite somber for adults as there are no graphic details or disturbing objects. I find a statue of a firefighter rescuing a baby very moving and inspirational.

My three and five-year-old kids were thrilled with the interactive junior firefighter program at the Discovery Center. As participants follow the prompts, they are instructed to dress up as a firefighter, board a fire truck, and make their way to a burning home in order to rescue a small child.

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