My three-year-old son is completely into firefighting, and we have accumulated quite a number of toys to accommodate his obsession. The list below includes some of our favorites along with comments from both of us. These would be great gifts for any little firefighter you love.
This fire chief costume set comes with a firefighter jacket, a helmet, an identification card, a badge, a play fire extinguisher, and a siren-making bullhorn.
To say this set is durable is an understatement. Our jacket has been used for multiple Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, a preschool circus show, and general wear around town. I’ve washed it many times, and it has held up well. The hat is made of hard plastic and still looks new after our three years of ownership. We frequently get free thin plastic fire helmets from real firefighters when we visit the station or see them at community events. They are fun for a while until they inevitably crack, so it’s always nice to have this sturdy helmet to count on. The helmet also comes with an insert where you can adjust the size. In our case, the insert was unnecessary, so we just unsnapped it easily and don’t use it. The bullhorn siren is loud but not too annoying. The identification card is about as durable as a driver’s license or credit card, and you can tape your child’s photo to it and write in a name. (Use a Sharpie marker or one that won’t smear.)
There is only one downside to this costume. The black velcro straps along the bottom that hold the bullhorn and fire extinguisher in don’t always work well. The bullhorn is too heavy to be held easily by the straps, and the fire extinguisher slips out easily. Overall, this is a minor complaint. My kids usually want to hold the toys anyway, so we just avoid using the straps most of the time.
Comments from my three-year-old:
3YO: “I want that firefighter coat!”
Me: “You already have that outfit.”
3YO: “But I need another one. I want it to be an outside firefighter coat.”
This sturdy twenty-four-piece puzzle is about four feet long. It’s big enough that, when worked, both of my kids can sit on it and play like they are heading off to an emergency. My five-year-old can work it alone, but my young three-year-old still needs help matching pieces. Once he has a few that match, he can physically put the pieces together easily because of their large size and thick cardboard. The pieces have a glossy finish that don’t absorb moisture (like drool and chocolate milk) and can be wiped clean easily. After heavy use, we have a few pieces with slightly damaged or peeling edges, but overall I have no complaints about the quality.
Comment from my three-year-old: “Hey! I worked that puzzle today!” (It’s true. He did.)
We own the black, navy, and red versions of these boots, but I love the Firechief version shown here, too. The boots hold up well with everyday use and, surprisingly, even when my kids use their feet as brakes when riding their scooters. (I try to discourage this!) The handles are nice because they make it easy for my kids to take the boots on and off themselves. In fact, these were the first shoes my now-three-year-old could put on all by himself two years ago.
The only downside: If these boots are totally submerged and filled with water, then it takes over a day for them to dry out, even with fans on them. The good news is that they don’t get too stinky even after this happens, assuming you let them air out for a while. If these boots weren’t lined on the inside, then this wouldn’t be a problem, but I think they would be less comfortable. Because my older son jumps so wildly in puddles, we got him two pairs of these so one could dry out, but eventually we switched to crocs Kids’ Handle It Rain Boots that are unlined for him. The crocs boots don’t look very fireman-like, though, so my less-inclined- to-wildly-splash son is happier with his Western Chief boots.
Comment from my three-year-old: “Those are real firefighter boots like mine! I want the all-different-color ones, too — with the grey, yellow, black, and white!”
This bifold children’s wallet has the usual area for dollar bills, a zipperd pocket for coins, plus several other compartments. The velcro is solid, and the design is unbelieveably cute! We also have a matching quilted backpack and umbrella.
Comment from my three-year-old: “Mama, can I have this dollar to put in my wallet? It’s just a dollar so it can’t really buy anything anyway.”
I don’t expect umbrellas to last forever, but we’ve had this one for over a year, and it still works fine. My three-year-old can open and close it himself. It’s well made and super cute. (If you have the Western Chief rain coat and boots, though, you might want to consider the matching Western Chief umbrella.
This is one of my kids’ favorite Duplo sets, and many times I have considered buying a second one. The trailer part of the truck can connect into either of two slots behind the cab, letting it turn loosely or remain fixed. The ladder and bucket raise, lower, and hook together easily. We also have a Duplo Ville Fire Chief Car (Set 6169) that we like to play with at the same time, and the Duplo Legoville Fire Station (Set 5601) is on our wish list.
When buying Duplos online, it’s worth remembering that sets eventually become discontinued, and the price for those sets can jump dramatically, depending on demand. A good rule of thumb is that Duplo sets usually cost around a dollar per piece, and the number of pieces are clearly marked on the boxes. A small set may cost a little more than that, and a large set may be a little less per block; however, if the price is wildly different from this rule of thumb, then you are either getting a great deal or paying a premium. If the set you are considering is priced too high, then it’s usually worth checking to see if there is a newer, similar set available that is priced more reasonably. All Duplo sets are great toys, and there usually isn’t a good reason to overpay for any single set.
The Lego City line is our favorite, and there are several great Lego City fire truck, station, car, helicopter, and boat sets available. My kids like the way a small blue “water” block attaches to the end of the fire hose and can shoot off like a spray. The fire blocks are fun to put on other Lego toys to create emergency games. The ladder works well, though I have to put it back together on a near-daily basis because my three-year-old is a little too rough on this toy. Clearly, it’s not intended for three-year-olds (the Duplo fire truck is more appropriate), but my youngest is interested in anything his big brother likes, of course. My five-year-old loves this toy, but even he is on the young side for Lego sets. He can’t assemble the sets by himself yet, but he likes to help me find the pieces we need and group them by color as I follow the directions. He also loves taking the sets apart and putting them together his own way, which is certainly just as worthwhile (or more so!) than following the directions provided. As with Duplos, make sure the Lego sets you are looking at online are priced reasonably. Discontinued sets may be priced very high, while newer, similar sets may be available at retail price.
9. Fireman Sam
If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can stream free Fireman Sam movies and episodes, including the old ones with stop-motion animation, in English and Spanish. Both of my boys (three and five) enjoy the show, and I don’t mind it at all (which says a lot, because I think most children’s shows are dreadful).
We also have the Fireman Sam — Fire & Rescue app on our iPad, and it’s very well done. It’s a bit difficult (but still enjoyable) for my three-year-old, and for my five-year-old it’s both challenging and fun. The app features rescue games, rewarding successful efforts by unlocking video clips and giving the players digital stickers to use in a virtual sticker book.
We’ve bought several Fireman Sam toys made by Simba, sold through Amazon, and imported from the United Kingdom. (It’s worth noting that Toys R Us sells Fireman Sam toys now, too, but we have not bought them there ourselves.) The scale of the figures varies some from set to set, and some of the figures are hard to get into the vehicles, particularly the Fireman Sam that comes with the Jupiter truck. While Jupiter is the favorite engine on the show, it’s my least favorite of the toys. It seems boxy and clunky, but my three-year-old loves it anyway. I prefer the figures in this five-pack set, the Neptune speed boat, and the Juno jet ski, which seem better proportioned.
And if you have any reservations about going down the Fireman Sam rabbit hole, keep in mind that even Prince George loves Fireman Sam, as it was his favorite television show when he turned three.
Comment from my three-year-old: “Fireman Sam is a hero!”
About three years ago, my oldest son received a Road Rippers fire truck like this but with a white ladder as a gift. It seemed like a well made toy, but within a few weeks, the ladders and side mirrors had broken off. I was not impressed, though my son still happily played with the broken version.
A few months ago, my youngest son finally agreed to part with his crib, but only under the condition that we sell it for money to spend on toys. That we did, and then we headed off to Target with $20 plus some birthday money in his fire truck wallet. After considering all the toys, he confidently settled on…the same Road Rippers fire truck we already owned. So despite my gentle redirection attempts, he bought the firetruck because he wanted one with ladders that worked. He plays with it daily and is still thrilled with his purchase.
The only difference that I can tell between the two trucks is that the ladder is now black instead of white. So far it hasn’t broken off. The sirens and sound effects on this truck are remarkably loud (and we have a lot of loud toys, so I know), but thankfully there is a switch on the bottom to disable the sound. There are arrow buttons on the side that make the truck drive forward or backward, and it’s loud when it drives, too (gears, friction).
Comment from my three-year-old: “I bought that with my own money.”
Every Bruder truck we own is well made (in Germany, incidentally), and this one is no exception. All Bruder trucks are expensive (retail for $80 and up), but I frequently find them on sale at T.J. Maxx and Home Goods. They are large toys, so be prepared that they will take up a good bit of shelf space.
My kids and I both enjoy Curious George and the Firefighters. I like the original illustrations, and the story is cute. We read this book over and over again. We prefer the physical book, but it also comes as a Kindle book, an Audible story, or as part of an i Read app that features a sticker-book-like game in addition to the story.
13. Sound Touch App
The Sound Touch app features photos of animals, instruments, objects, and vehicles accompanied by their respective sounds. One of the vehicles included is a fire truck, which, when touched, rotates through a handful of different photos and siren sounds. My kids have enjoyed this app from the days when they were really too young to be on the iPad and have never tired of it. It’s simple but well done.
Comment from my three-year-old: “Mama, can I play that when you’re done?”
14. I Hear Ewe App
I’ll end on a free item. This free (yes, free) app is similar to the Sound Touch app but with only a single image (a drawing, not a photo) and sound for each item. However, in addition to a fire truck, the I Hear Ewe app also features an ambulance and a police car — triple the number of emergency vehicles!
Please like and share your favorite firefighter toys and gear featured here. And we’d love to hear about other children’s firefighting items that you love in the comments.