Play It Safe (Fire Truck and Fire Station) - Chicago Children's Museum (and Navy Pier)

Play It Safe is all about firefighters: a firetruck, hoses and hydrant, and a fire station with small pole to slide down. Since it’s near the entrance, I’ve been on trips to the museum which have solely consisted of this area. It’s a good one and while it’s often busy, there are rarely school groups that overrun it, unlike other top rooms.

You can generally keep an eye on kids pretty easily from the benches or just standing in the play area. It’s not perfectly enclosed (the fire station does have a second exit, plus kids can go through the front cab of the firetruck), but the primary play area is contained.


The front of the firetruck has two steering wheels, and a button to push to turn on sirens. There are also stairs to climb up the middle of the fire truck, and a fairly steep slant to climb up to the fire truck’s “bucket.” Kids should be able to climb up to the bucket around 2 or 3 years old; I’d encourage you to go up the stairs with them if they’re borderline, just to help gauge whether they can get up to the bucket. Kids who are big enough to climb up the stairs but not up the steep section to the bucket may find the experience pretty frustrating.

There are lots of pretend hoses that can be connected to the fire truck or the fire hydrant. They can also be strung together, although they don’t all work perfectly and younger will probably have trouble getting the sides correctly lined up (if they don’t fit together, you’ll need to turn one hose around).

In the fire station, there is firefighter gear to put on: pants, coat and boots. The boots are numbered by size: boots starting with a 2 (like 282) are the smallest, those starting with a 3 is next, and so on. There is a pretend computer and phone to handle dispatching, and a few stairs that lead up to a small pole. Depending on the level of adventurousness, the pole is pretty good with 2 or 3-year-olds and up. Towards the younger end of that range, you’ll probably need to help them reach out to the pole and get a good grip (kids will need to lean out a decent ways to grab it).

Lastly, there are two things to work on fire safety: an area off the fire station that has fabric “smoke” that kids can practice crawling through, and just outside, a fire fighting mannequin in full gear to help prepare kids for what one would look like in an emergency.