Asst Fire Chief Erik Vogel Burnaby Fire Department with the Fire-ED Interactive System

Making 2018 the year to change fire safety education paradigms

How about making 2018 the year to change fire safety education paradigms?

Edd Ulushack fire safety cartoonist

Edd Ulushack fire and life safety cartoonist.

With another National Fire Prevention Week coming up next month what does your local fire department have planned again for community to attend?

  • Open house at all your fire stations? Check.
  • PSAs on radio and TV advising people to check their smoke alarms and to have a home fire escape plan for their family and to practice? Check.
  • Social media postings on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with the same messages? Check.

Some of the above noted events still sounds like last year’s fire prevention week plan, no? Maybe some departments have added a social media piece for this year, or other small steps to refresh programs, but the messages are still the same, am I right?

ICYMI, check out these past posts from my fire service colleague and fire and life safety educator, Tanya Bettridge. If you don’t know Tanya, you don’t know how to be more effective in your fire and life safety communications.

What Fire Departments Can Learn from Beer Ads – PART I

Emotional marketing can make for better fire safety messages

Fire Prevention Week Must Become Year-Round

On this point we can all agree, right? After all, preventable fires happen 52 weeks a year, not just one. But how can your department do that with “barriers” like these “blocking” the way?

  • Lack of available people who can deliver effective fire and life safety education and training programs year-round to reach adults and children in your community;
  • A suppression-centric focus within a fire department that relegates fire and life safety education to the “back burner” or even off the “stove” altogether;
  • Lack of quality teaching materials and the resources (people and money) to make things better.

A good fire prevention and education program nowadays should consist of a Learning Management Systems (LMS), like Fire-ED is offering to administer, track, manage, and report on Interactive Learning Events and more.

Change your attitude, change your altitude

It’s often been said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and hoping for a different outcome. So, how are your fire department’s public fire and life safety education efforts going?

  • How many children and adults are you reaching each year?
  • How many times each year are you reaching them?
  • How many people in your department are involved in fire and life safety education?

Now what if you could have the answers to those questions? And what if you could add these features to your farm life safety education efforts:

  • State of the art professionally developed teaching materials;
  • 24/7 on-line access to those teaching materials for children and their parents; and
  • Real-time analytics for student participation and how they’re meeting course learning objectives.

But wait, there’s more! How would you like to increase your cadre of informed and educated teenagers and adults who can do informative and educational and effective fire and life safety programs in your community while your departmental personnel focus on operational readiness? Anybody like this in your community, who might have available time and is looking to contribute to the quality of life in the community?

  • Stay at home moms and dads;
  • Retirees; and
  • College students.

Making a Dollar and a Difference

What if more people could become social entrepreneurs and start their own small business learning about fire safety while teaching fire and life safety skills for children and parents in the community? (Where is it “written in stone” that fire and life safety education must be done by a fire department and that it must be free?).

Why aren’t more fire departments looking into outsourcing fire and life safety education in their communities so that they can marshal their—in most cases diminishing—resources (e.g., people and money) to provide the best emergency response services possible?

This is not some “pipe dream” of mine. There is such a system and it’s been available for the better part of the last five years. It’s the Fire-ED Interactive System developed by my colleague Tracy Last. And if you don’t know Tracy and the Fire-ED Interactive System, then you don’t know fire and life safety education for the 21st century.

Hope is not a plan

This year try something different for National Fire Prevention Week. Don’t cancel what you already have planned but do this as well. Hook up a computer to a large screen TV and play this video for those folks who attend your department’s Open House. Post this video on your department’s website and Facebook page.

Promote and amplify the video to build awareness and support for your new fire and life safety education initiative:

Forming a coalition of public and private organizations and individuals in your community to figure out how to bring the Fire-ED Interactive System to your community. Get ‘em “pumped up” with this video:

The Fire-ED Interactive System is way more than just what comes out of the box! As a member of the Fire-ED Social network (FSN) you will get to see the total package and slowly integrate the wide array of resources into your community. And anyone can do this! Become a member of the Fire-ED Interactive Community and learn and share with like-minded fire and life safety educators, firefighters, chiefs, teachers, students, parents and other social entrepreneurs around the world (Yes, Fire-ED Interactive is global).

So, what are you waiting for? Let change start to happen now, like for this National Fire Prevention Week 2018 which is October 7-13.

About the author: Robert Avsec

I'm a retired fire department battalion chief (26 years on the job!) who's embarked upon a 2nd career as a freelance writer. One of my passions as a writer is combining my fire service experience with my writing ability to promote the need for effective fire and life safety education, especially for children.

One of my most passionate positions is that too many fire departments continue to have a fire suppression focus and not near enough of a fire prevention focus. Responding to fires after they occur has been, is, and always will be a losing end-game. Fire departments must "up their game" to address the public fire and life safety education of children and adults in their communities so that every citizen has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to avoid becoming the victim of a preventable fire.

My writings appear on: my blog, Talking "Shop" 4 Fire and EMS; and

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