SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The annual South Walton Fire District All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast kicked off National Fire Prevention Week on Saturday.

After canceling due to COVID-19 concerns the past two years, Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez is glad the event is back and better than ever.

“It’s important that we do this again,” Sanchez said. “It’s a fundraiser as well but more importantly, it’s our way to open our doors to our community, let them know that we’re here, we haven’t gone anywhere and we appreciate their support. This is our way of giving back.”

This is the first time the event has been held at their recently expanded headquarters in Santa Rosa Beach and there are fun new additions, especially for kids.

“We just finished up the obstacle course of a day in the life of a firefighter,” resident Heather Cleveland said. “We really liked that and of course, seeing the trucks and all of the gear is pretty cool too.”

Sanchez said having events like this is a great way for the community to get to know their first responders.

“These are the people that are going to show up at your house at 2 or 3 in the morning so having a familiar face sometimes goes a long way.”

Cleveland agreed.

“I think it’s important for our kids to be able to see that these are normal people as well, moms and dads out in the community and they do a really important job and service for us so it’s nice to be able to give back and appreciate them a little bit too; spend some time with them when it’s not in that high-stress situation,” Cleveland said.

Proceeds raised from the pancake breakfast fund fire prevention resources for the community, such as the free smoke alarm program for residents.