Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Firefighter Also Responds to Calls to Entertain

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Firefighter Also Responds to Calls to Entertain

Article excerpt

Byline: Christy Whitehead, Clay County Line correspondent

Fire trucks at a party are usually a sign of disaster, but not when Billy Futch is the driver.

Futch's Orange Park company, Hire a Fire Truck, responds to calls for fun and entertainment rather than emergency aid.

A Jacksonville and Clay County firefighter for 12 years, Futch said he wanted to start a company unlike any other in the area. So far, he said, he's found only two others like it in the country.

Futch started renting out fire trucks for events last summer. Business has been going so well that he has been getting tips on how to franchise his company from Chris and Robin Sorenson, who own Firehouse Subs.

"Reaction has been phenomenal," said Futch, who lives on Fleming Island. "Once I started, it has done nothing but take off and go through the roof."

Southside residents Michael and Julie Ossi recently won a firefighter-themed birthday party from the Cowford Ball, an event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Their birthday boy, 3-year-old son John, loves fire trucks.

The Ossis, who live in Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, said they had a hard time finding a place to host a party that would keep their children's attention.

"This is the most fun they've had at a party," Michael Ossi said.

At the party, Futch taught fire safety to those attending -- holding the interest of even the youngest children.

"I throw some jokes in there to keep everyone's attention," he said.

Julie Ossi said she doesn't think the children would listen if she were to try to teach them about fire and fire safety. She said Futch teaches more at their level.

"He did it in a fun way," she said. "They will never forget this."

Futch worked concurrently for the Clay County and Jacksonville fire departments until 1995, after which he left the Clay County department but stayed on in Jacksonville. …

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