BLUE Care Amaroo Aged Care Tweed Heads resident Trevor Bale was a little unsure of fire alarm tests when he first came to live at the facility.
Thanks to care staff and maintenance man Alan Bartlett what Mr Bale was once afraid of has become his obsession.
Mr Bale, who has Down syndrome, loves everything to do with fire fighting so much that Tugun Fire Station officers will visit Amaroo with a fire truck for his birthday on Friday March 23.
"I used to test the alarms once a week," Mr Bartlett said.
"I'd say 'This is only a test' into the PA system, and Trev would repeat it to me.
"After that we got him to mention it on the PA once a month, but not anymore."
When Mr Bale first came to Amaroo he was "frightened of a lot of things", Mr Bartlett said.
"As I involved him in being part of what the alarms are about, and what he's got to do if there's fire, he's really run with it.
"He's overcome that fear by being supported, loved and having it explained to him.
"Now it's therapeutic," he said.
Not long after this passion began Mr Bartlett asked Mr Bale if he would like to visit a mate of his at the Tugun Fire Station.
"We got permission to take him along, and the firies even decked him out in an old uniform after they got permission from Southport.
"Since then he's been really good.
"Maintaining residents' interests and hobbies is what we try to achieve here.
"He looks up to me too, for some reason - I've been here about 20 years and he's been here for a number of years.
"We've built up quite a companionship during that time."
The Tugun officers will allow Mr Bale into the truck's cockpit, turn on the siren and put on a bit of a show for the rest of Amaroo's residents on his birthday.
Mr Bartlett said he was informally the Tugun Fire Station's mascot, and his Sister Esta once bought them a case of beer to say thanks.
They even visit occasionally to bring him presents.
The community donates much of the little extras that make Amaroo residents' lives enjoyable, Mr Bartlett said.
"You can see why we need those donations: they bring so much joy.
"Trev's sister has done a wonderful job looking after him, and she enjoys his passion too," he said.
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