From chief to chief … A change of command at West Manatee Fire Rescue District

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Fire Chief Ben Rigney thanks his grandfather Hugh Holmes Sr., a onetime volunteer firefighter and Anna Maria Fire commissioner, after Holmes pinned Rigney with the badge of fire chief Oct. 17, as Fire Chief Andy Price, the first chief of the district, applauds.
WMFR Fire Chief Ben Rigney poses Oct. 15 with his family after taking the oath of office while commissioners look on.
Former Fire Chief Tom Sousa gathers with his family after his Oct. 17 retirement from West Manatee Fire Rescue. WMFR has had three chiefs since the district formed in 2000.
Fire chiefs Tom Sousa and Ben Rigney bow their heads Oct. 17 during a moment of silence at the WMFR change of command ceremony.

WMFR announces fire station open house

Firefighters and the community give it up for the kids.

West Manatee Fire Rescue will host an open house 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at Station 1, 407 67th St. W., Bradenton — and is billing it as the “hottest” event of the day.

Fun on tap includes bounce houses, a dunk tank — featuring “Dunk the Chief”— a face painter and a glitter tattoo artist, and close-up looks at the district fire engine, ladder truck and fire boat. There will be station tours, and an obstacle course for kids who will be provided with custom gear for the challenge.

And there will be music! Holmes Beach code enforcement officer JT Thomas will deejay the event.

Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks will be free.

Community sponsors include Domino’s Pizza, providing 100 pizzas, Blake Medical Center, donating $1,000, Kiwanis Keys & Canes volunteers will be on hand to help during the event and Winn Dixie is providing drinks and cooks.

The WMFR open house is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact WMFR Fire Marshal Rodney Kwiatkowski at or 941-201-7904.