Shelby makes Alex Baker, 7, an honorary firefighter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2020 at 9:35 am

Boy with sensory processing disorder welcomed at firehall

Photos by Tom Rivers: Alex Baker, 7, received a certificate from the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, designating him as an honorary member. He received the recognition on Monday during a meeting of the fire company. He is pictured with his family: parents William Baker and Candice Vought, and brothers Ryan and Adam.

SHELBY – Alex Baker looks forward to stopping by the Shelby fire hall every Tuesday evening. He and his mother, Candice Vought, will bring firefighters cookies and brownies.

The firefighters will give him a short ride in a fire truck.

The gestures and acceptance are much appreciated by Alex’s family. Alex, who turns 8 next month, has a sensory processing disorder. That makes it difficult for him to be around a lot of people or in buildings with unpredictable noises.

Alex made his first visit to the fire hall about a month ago. He was very reluctant to go inside.

But the firefighters proved friendly and welcoming.

“It’s still new to him, but he is happy and walks right into the building,” said his mother.

Alex Baker is congratulated on being a new honorary member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. Tim Petry, Shelby president, shakes Alex’s hand. Fire Chief Jason Watts also welcomed Alex as an honorary member. Alex is joined up front by his mother, Candice Vought.

The firefighters have noticed he feels more comfortable and doesn’t shy away.

“He is really coming out of his shell,” said Tim Petry, president of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

Petry and Fire Chief Jason Watts made Alex an honorary member of the fire company on Monday. They presented him with a certificate during the fire company’s monthly meeting.

Alex’s brothers – Ryan, 13, and Adam, 10 – have joined a youth group through the fire company that meets Tuesday evenings. Alex looks forward to joining too when he is 10.

Alex enjoys watching the cartoon, Fireman Sam, and admires firefighters. Besides riding in the fire trucks, he has watched firefighters do an extrication drill, tearing apart a car.

She and Alex’s father also wanted firefighters and police officers to get to know Alex and understand his disability in case they ever encounter him in an emergency.

“We wanted to get him involved in the community,” said his mother.

William Baker said the firefighters have been kind to his son.

“I was surprised that they have been very open to him,” he said. “That makes Alex want to see them again.”

Alex Baker and his mother Candice Vought are pictured with Shelby Fire Chief Jason Watts, left, and President Tim Petry.

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