Richardson helping ECFD gear up for Breakfast with Santa


Dena Richardson is a senior fire inspector and fire and life safety educator for the Elizabeth City Fire Department.


BY Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Whether it’s a warm coat or a new toy to be placed under the Christmas tree, Dena Richardson is coordinating Elizabeth City Fire Department events this holiday season designed to help people in need.

Helping others in the community is “truly the whole reason why we do what we do,” said Richardson, the department’s senior fire inspector and fire and life safety educator.

One of the department’s upcoming events is its third annual Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 8.

“It gives children a chance to interact with firefighters,” Richardson said of the event, which will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Station 1 on 902 Halstead Boulevard.

After a breakfast of pancakes and sausage, children can get their photo taken with Santa Claus. They also can participate in a craft activity and decorate gingerbread or sugar cookies.

“It’s a great family environment,” Richardson of the event.

Richardson said department officials expect to sell at least 100 tickets for Breakfast with Santa. Tickets are $6 and all proceeds will go toward the purchase of gifts for children in families needing Christmas assistance.

Richardson said firefighters shop together to purchase the gifts, and usually chip in themselves financially.

“Our guys give personally,” said Richardson.

The firefighters also wrap and box the gifts, which are given to families.

“Their passion makes it successful,” said Richardson of the firefighters.

Richardson said the fire department is also collecting new or gently used coats for children at both Station 1 and Station 2 at 410 Harney Street. After the coats have been dry-cleaned, Richardson said they’ll be distributed at Station 1 on a first come, first serve basis on Dec. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“We wanted to give back to the community,” Richardson said, referring to the Coats for Kids drive.

Originally from Elizabeth City, Richardson has worked with the department for 21 years.

“It was an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life,” Richardson said of her decision to join the city’s firefighting force.

In her job, Richardson educates the public about both fire and life safety.

“Early detection is the key,” said Richardson. “Smoke detectors are the first line of defense.”

To pay for more smoke detectors for people who need them, the fire department will be hosting an upcoming raffle, Richardson said. Proceeds will go toward the department’s smoke detector program.

Richardson said the fire department also offers Lunch Buddy programs and has participated in fall festivals at schools. The department is also looking forward to participating in Elizabeth City’s annual Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m.

When she’s not working, Richardson enjoys spending time with her husband, Adam, and their sons, Caleb and Justin, at their home in Perquimans.

To learn more about the Elizabeth City Fire Department’s programs and upcoming events, check out the city’s website at http://www.cityofec.com or the department’s Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/Elizabeth.City.Fire.Department/.