Vaughan’s newest firefighter may take his gear a size or two smaller than average, but he has a fighting spirit to match any member of the team.

Matteo Papa, 5, is currently battling Leukemia and has a year-and-a-half to go before he’s through treatment.

After hearing that his dream is to be a firefighter, Vaughan Fire Services decided to help the five-year-old get a head start.

So this morning for Matteo’s fifth birthday, he was greeted by Vaughan Fire Chief Larry Bentley and a crew of other firefighters who came to his family’s Woodbridge home.

The firefighters gave Matteo his own helmet and uniform, as well as a birthday cake and a ride to school in a firetruck.

When he arrived at his school with lights and sirens, firefighter Matteo was greeted by teachers who helped sing him “Happy Birthday.”

With lots of wide smiles all around, there were strong emotions for Matteo and his family, as well as Vaughan’s finest.

“I had a couple of tears there for a minute,” Chief Bentley said when the song was done. “It’s a special day for us to give back to the community and to Matteo.”

Matteo’s mom Judy said that for the family, today is a high point on what has been an emotional rollercoaster.

“It’s been a roller coaster, both physically and emotionally,” she said. “It’s been a long road, but thanks to SickKids and the doctors and nurses, they helped us get through this.”

Wide-eyed and beaming, the youngest member of the fire crew had a simple word to sum up his memorable fifth birthday: