Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new title for Fire-ED Chief Inspiration Officer and Founder Tracy Last

As a daughter of an entrepreneur father I grew up with a sell sell sell motto like dad, though always questioned things. As a young adult, working by the seat of my pants, there was no time, in our downtown Vancouver bustling Yaletown warehouse district office, for business school (I left fashion design college to work with dad). While I certainly learned the tricks of the trade I also learned social entrepreneurship…. “by osmosis.”

At the age of 26 I had my first child at which time I gave up the commute to set up home office in the suburbs. The trouble was I also took a cut in pay only being able to work part time for dad. I wound up finding myself in a job as a letter carrier for a few years, while raising two boys, and still running my own business that I eventually formed called Last Logos Promos Inc offering customized promotional products for businesses and public safety agencies looking to build PR and rapport with employees, valued clients and the general public. 

Social entrepreneurship is the attempt to draw upon business techniques and private sector approaches to find solutions to social, cultural or environmental problems (Wikipedia).

For my entire adult life I have been an entrepreneur “flogging my wares” and tapping into niche markets to sell promotional products to various corporations as well as public service agencies like forestry, fire services, and law enforcement. Smokey Bear, Police Pals, Firehall Swag & Displays, Fire Safe Kids, and Armadillo Merino Head to Toe Base Layers are just some of our exclusive product lines we still sell.

Laura, Smokey Bear, Tracy, Monica

Though safety awareness campaigns have a heavy emphasis on material distribution, for me it wasn’t just about the product sales as much as it was the final outcome for the person receiving that pencil, sticker or pretty balloon. It would take two decades to realize the path I was paving in my business had all the markings of true social entrepreneurship.

It was 1989 when I officially joined my father’s business. Straight away I was given the title manager of the Smokey Bear division. Dad became a licensee in 1979 and provided promotional products for wildfire prevention campaigns across Canada and the US. A real ah ha moment for me was while travelling, attending tradeshows, and meeting public educators, I started to learn more and more about their business and saw ways on how we could help improve on their safety programs for the public. Eventually I found myself in what was more of a consulting role.

Across the board, between forestry, fire services and community policing it was very clear there was no continuity or standardization to any of their community outreach campaigns. Evidently, the public safety education system is lacking the manpower, resources, statistical data, risk assessment and funding to do the job right. I guess I just stayed the course, finding myself completely immersed in my own free willed campaign to further investigate and create solutions to a great deal of the public education challenges that are not being addressed at the agency level.

Transitioning From Entrepreneur to Social Entrepreneur…

Social entrepreneurship signals the imperative to drive social change. It encompasses a lot of things, some of which are fully dedicated to affecting change, while others address issues through indirect means, such as paying equitable wages to vulnerable or underserved groups or providing volunteers to help with local projects. It is a sustainable business model with its lasting, transformational benefit to society, that brings the field and its practitioners together.

By all intents and purposes, I proudly consider myself a social entrepreneur and as I fully embrace it I am finding more support from fire service professionals praising my efforts for changing paradigms.

burnaby-bc-firefighter-with-tracy-last-and-the-fully-involved-home-safe-system-by-prevention-connectionMostly through the course of 25+ years observing this landscape, what I have been learning is that much of what I sell for public education campaigns—coloring books, pencils, plastic fire helmets—is not what those departments, or the communities they serve, truly need. The products I was creating, and that they were buying, aren’t truly teaching kids the life skills they need to be not only fire safe but aware and engaged with society. And hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these so called “educational materials.” It’s catch 22 as I say this, as while I do appreciate and need the business, we are constantly reinvesting profits into Fire-ED, which in a round about way, is our Last Logos corporate social responsibility for giving back to community.

Tracy is seen here assisting firefighters using her newly designed teaching tool, the Fire-ED “Fully Involved” Teaching Tool. Kids, from two elementary school classes, were attending a traditional fire station tour in Burnaby BC when we brought in our Teaching Tool to show the firefighters how teaching fire safety can be as much fun as it is for the kids interacting with the Fire-ED System.

….Kids still dying in home fires!!

To keep kids engaged in their safety lessons, and to keep public educators at the top of their game, the teaching tools (visual aids) really are the deal maker or breaker. Realizing the critical need Fire-ED developed an innovative teaching resource for public educators to use, that is also designed for anyone to use, not just fire officers. At the same time we are structuring a social business model and social enterprise.

Fire-ED is the product of the parent company Last Logos Promotional Inc.  doing business as Prevention Connection International  with the expressed purpose of becoming an open source of training, teaching tools and new technology for Firefighters, Fire and Life Safety Educators, and Community Safety Facilitators (everyday citizens).

Bringing Modern Solutions to Today’s Public Education Challenges

Having a clear understanding, of challenges that fire departments face in delivering fire and life safety education, we came to the conclusion, that what is universally lacking, is a consistent and standardized method for teaching that capitalized on the learning style that suits most children best—hands-on learning that involves the child, giving them something to do, see and hear all in one lesson. And a system that also involves older children, adults and seniors too, who learn through participating in Fire-ED’s Community Direct Teaching Model.

My name is Robert Avsec, I am a retired Battalion Chief doing freelance writing work for various fire service publications. Tracy Last, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working and collaborating with since 2013, is a true social entrepreneur with 25 years experience in the area of promoting public fire & life safety. Throughout my fire service career, and well into retirement, I’ve never found a person–especially someone who’s not an actual fire service professional by trade–who’s as passionate and committed to public education. I took some time to interview Tracy to learn more about “what makes her tick” as a social entrepreneur.

What makes Tracy Last a social entrepreneur? An entrepreneur creates a product or service that meets a willing consumer’s need. It might be a need that the consumer didn’t even know that they had; or it might be a better solution to a known need. A social entrepreneur sees the opportunity to change the paradigm with tools or technology that meets a need in ways that make people wonder afterwards, “How did we ever do the job before?” You could say that social entrepreneurs are “game changers.” What a game changer it was when Steve Jobs introduced the PC, yes?

Changing the Game as a Social Entrepreneur is not for the Faint of Heart

Last Logos at Fire Chief tradeshow as Official NFPA Licensee from 1998 – 2005 CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW

Last’s initial efforts at being a social entrepreneur, in a fire and life safety educator’s space, met with great resistance. Rather than fire service organizations endorsing, adopting, or promoting the “PC” that she’d developed for the industry experts to use, namely, the Fire-ED Interactive System, Last found an uphill struggle.

“It’s a little archaic” said Last “meaning the interactions that we are having with those heading the associations, or government agencies, who say they care about fire and life safety education. In reality, some of those, in positions of authority, seem to be  narrow sighted and resistant to change. Especially involving new ideas or concepts for reaching people, particularly children….”

One of the governmental entities chose to get into  the entrepreneurial space by purchasing the same fire prevention and promotional items as those marketed by Last Logos.

“In 2005 we lost our NFPA contract that we had for developing and distributing Sparky The Fire Dog materials and that cuts deep when we worked so hard for 7 years (1998-2005) to build this up and we were the only  licensee in Canada. This arm’s length government entity in Ontario Canada got into selling “educational materials.” They contacted me to talk about partnering and asked me to send samples. They did not partner with us at all, they started a distribution center of grand proportions. Promotional product distribution is a profitable business yet with those profits we do not see them actually developing sound educational resources , like we are, for properly educating kids and families.”

PPPC Code of Ethics

“The Legitimate distributor company whose only form of income is selling promotional products having to compete against an arm’s length organization such as a government body or another Association as the end user raises the concern of unfair competition in the marketplace.” Read More

“Tragically my first business (Last Logos) took a “tailspin”, going from steady incline of growth, to grave loss when the Ontario Fire Marshal ‘s Public Fire Safety Council (aka Fire Safety Canada) formed its Distribution Center, that was the turning point. The clear indication was that I could not compete on an uneven playing field, while Last Logos still exists, we have lost 90% of our clients to the new “competition” so I had no choice but to venture on.”

Venturing on requires Tenacity, Time, and Constant Reinvesting

Tracy Last Colorado Rockies Public Educator ConferenceRealizing that the critical need—teaching children to avoid becoming victims of fire—still exists, Last decided to work against the odds, and to reinvest, recreate, restructure, build a network and be fully prepared to address the issue. “I believe with every fiber of my being that The Fire-ED Interactive System can be that ‘game changer’ for fire and life safety education,” said Last. “I believe that because it’s more than just a box with colorful and well-designed teaching materials. The system includes a community involvement strategy that revolutionizes the way fire and life safety education is taught to kids all around the world.”

Last is currently building upon the successes that she’s had in selling the phase 1  Home Safe Teaching System. Fire departments across Canada have purchased this resource in its original form. Those communities include: Burnaby, Victoria, Qualicum Beach, Charlie Lake, Port McNeill, Malakwa, West Kelowna, Parksville, and First Nations’ Emergency Services Society in BC; Airdie in Alberta; Middlesex Center and Six Nations in Ontario; and Nunavut. “Even Greenwood, the smallest city in BC has the kit,” said Last.

Now Fire-ED is gaining traction in international markets. “Recently we’ve supplied fire departments in the USA,” said Last. “Mammoth Lakes Fire Department in California and the Elko Fire Department in Nevada.”  Fire Rescue TV helped out too and created a kids training video using the Fire-ED Teaching tool. Fire-ED broke ground in Florida where  Fire Marshal Aaron Johnson “The Code Coach” teamed up to collaborate on the Community Safety Facilitator Curriculum. Read this article Developing Public Education Programs.

What’s next for this social entrepreneur?

Last is hopeful to soon add CCC to the end of its name by incorporating Fire-ED Interactive as a Community Contribution Corporation (C3), a relatively new organizational structure under Canadian business law. The C3 provides a vehicle with the potential to inject investor capital from the private sector into areas normally dominated by government and charity.

Part regular for-profit corporation and part non-profit organization, a C3 is required to contribute 60 percent of its profits to qualified charitable causes. “By making Fire-ED a C3 entity we can then readily donate our teaching tools to fire departments and communities that don’t have the funds to purchase the resources on their own,” said Last.

Any sponsor of Fire-ED is going to help develop an impact business that’s revolutionizing the way fire and life safety education should be done. We’ve got a Direct Teaching Model–of which the Fire-ED “Fully Involved” Teaching Tool is central–that will bring prevention education to more people, more often, and for less money than traditional teaching methods.

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.

Edd Ulushack fire safety cartoonist

Oh The Stuff We Were Never Taught in Fire Safety

Fire Safety – What Do You Know?

At community events that some of us have attended (you have right!?) well the fire prevention teams capture our attention with a lot of interesting life safety topics and demonstrate skills firefighters know on how to fight fires and rescue people. Does this get us thinking how these skills may save our life one day. Or is there more?

Most of the common fire safety messages in public education presentations are facts we should know so that we don’t:

  • Don’t leave the stove unattended.
  • Don’t fall asleep without snuffing out the candle.
  • Don’t plug in lamps with frayed cords.
  • Don’t use an electrical device if liquid’s been spilled on it.
  • Don’t dump cigarette ash into the trash.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes in the first place.
  • Don’t run around if our clothes catch on fire.
  • And stuff.

If lucky we can participate in more advanced fire safety talks with OTHER items that enhance our knowledge, like:

  • Did you know that fire makes water? Crazy, right? If you put a cold spoon over a flame, water vapor will condense on the metal. Hence Fire makes water but not enough to put out the flames.
  • The deadliest fire in American history took place April 27, 1865. It occurred on the steamship “Sultana.” The boilers exploded and the ship was 6 times over capacity, which is not a good combination. The death toll? 1,547
  • The color of a flame is influenced by the oxygen supply. Low-oxygen flames give off a yellow glow while high-oxygen flames burn blue.
  • The more oxygen, the hotter the flame. An oxyacetylene welding torch, which is pure oxygen plus acetylene, burns at over 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit. You can’t get much hotter than that.
  • A house fire will double in size every minute.
  • Spontaneous combustion CAN happen. There are some fuel sources that generate their own heat, sometimes by rotting. This can cause spontaneous combustion to occur, so be careful.
  • The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed 80 percent of the city, subsequently ending an outbreak of the bubonic plague.

Anyone, who gets hired on at the fire department, learns about fire chemistry! All firefighters know the fire triangle, fire gases, heat, thermal layer, smoke etc. They know how homes are built air-tight, that today’s plastics and materials quickly produce more deadly gases.This is common knowledge that anyone working in the fire service knows and that every other person in the public needs to know. ~Rita Paine, Fire Service Instructor

Have you ever been involved in fire safety lessons where they present topics that really spark the imagination, like say:

Dust collection

Dust builds up quickly and can make the perfect kindling — especially clumps that accumulate near electrical sockets and appliances. All it takes is one errant spark to light up a dust bunny before it spreads to nearby curtains or upholstery.

Whenever you sweep floors or dust furniture, pay special attention to vulnerable areas, like around electronics, the washing machine and dryer, and the refrigerator. In addition, don’t ignore hard-to-reach places where dust has likely collected for some time, including behind shelves, atop ceiling fans, underneath the bed, and behind dressers.

Dead, decaying flowers

Although rare, dead flowers can set off a blaze … and do. Back in 2010, such a case occurred at a home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dead flowers left in a plastic pot on a sunny porch erupted in a fire that caused $20,000 in damages. Similarly, investigators of a 2012 house fire in Des Moines determined the ignition source to be a wooden pot of dried-up dead flowers and mulch on a hot day. As a matter of fact, all it takes is some parched organic material (such as flowers, plants, or even compost) plus soaring temperatures to create the right conditions for spontaneous combustion. Additionally, chemicals and nitrates make an inferno all the more plausible. (Personal anecdote: a friend of mine once came home to firefighters putting out a fence blaze ignited by a compost bin.

Piles of old newspapers

Believe it or not, stacks of old newspapers left near gas and propane containers are the culprit of many fire damage claims. A clutter of paper near a vent, space heater, or electrical socket also runs a major risk of starting a fire.

Glass fixtures

You know how magnifying glasses can focus sunlight to burn holes through paper or help start a campfire? Well, household glassware can have the same effect. Between 2010 and 2015, the London Fire Brigade recorded 125 fires caused by glass fixtures (7 of which happened in the winter). And since London isn’t a sun-clad destination to begin with, those numbers are remarkable. Be mindful of where you keep your fish tank, mirror, glass high heels, or crystal ball — they may not bode well near a window or skylight.

Oil-stained linens and clothes

Clothes, sheets, or cleaning rags that are stained with cooking oil, grease, gasoline, or cleaning agents can run the risk of causing a fire when run through the dryer. What’s more, oil-stained towels have been known to spontaneously combust after they’ve been taken out and folded. Anything that’s suffered stains like these may need to be cycled through the wash a few times to ensure there are no flammable remnants. Consumer Reports recommends not using liquid fabric softener, since combustibility tests show they actually expedite the burning process. As a safe alternative, they suggest using dryer sheets.

  • Fire is an event, not a thing. Heating wood or other fuel releases volatile vapors that can rapidly combust with oxygen in the air; the resulting incandescent bloom of gas further heats the fuel, releasing more vapors and perpetuating the cycle.
  • Most of the fuels we use derive their energy from trapped solar rays. In photosynthesis, sunlight and heat make chemical energy (in the form of wood or fossil fuel); fire uses chemical energy to produce light and heat.
  • Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn. Everywhere else: Not enough oxygen.
  • Conversely, the more oxygen, the hotter the fire. Air is 21 percent oxygen; combine pure oxygen with acetylene, a chemical relative of methane, and you get an oxyacetylene welding torch that burns at over 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit—the hottest fire you are likely to encounter.
  • So candle flames are blue at the bottom because that’s where they take up fresh air, and yellow at the top because the rising fumes from below partly suffocate the upper part of the flame.
  • Because wax—like most organic materials, including wood and gasoline—contains hydrogen, which bonds with oxygen to make H2O when it burns. Water comes out your car’s tailpipe, too.
  • The Black Dragon Fire of 1987, the largest wildfire in modern times, burned some 20 million acres across China and the Soviet Union, an area about the size of South Carolina.
  • Haystacks, compost heaps, and even piles of old newspapers and magazines can also burst into flame. A good reason to recycle DISCOVER when you are done.

What seems to be missing in most public education lessons is the very basic fire science facts that every citizen deserves to know. Considering that people are on their own until the fire department arrives wouldn’t it be great if they understood basic fire science so they don’t waste time looking for the cause of the fire or gathering all their belongings etc (thinking they have time). Simple, basic fire science knowledge would give people the understanding as to WHY smoke alarms, home escape plans, home escape ladders, and why taking fire prevention measures is imperative in their lives. The first 5 minutes of a fire event is critical for life safety! People have to know how to take care of themselves, and know what to expect from a fire and its by-products. ~Rita Paine, Fire Service Instructor

Be in the know. Even the items we didn’t learn about smoke detectors can be interesting;

  • Ionization or Photoelectric. Ionization alarms may respond slightly faster to flaming-type fires, while photo-electric alarms may be quicker at detecting slow, smoldering fires. Because the two types operate differently and are better at detecting different kinds of fires, it’s suggested you either install both types or buy detectors that feature both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Composition.  All smoke detectors consist of two basic parts: a sensor to sense the smoke and a very loud electronic horn to wake people up.   There are even special alarms that have strobe lights for those with hearing impairments.
  • Tampering. Homeowners or tenants can be fined for tampering with or disabling a smoke alarm, this even includes removing the battery.
  • All smoke alarms, whether battery operated or electrically wired should be replaced if they are more than 10 years old because they lose their sensitivity over time.  And it’s recommended batteries be replaced once a year
  • Location.  Install smoke alarms on your ceilings rather than walls, because smoke rises, and that gives you the earliest possible warning. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for optimum placement.

Of course everyone reading this have gone through our homes, room by room, being sure to reduce fire hazards (you have right!?):

  • Electrical cords and outlets: Don’t overload outlets. Replace frayed or damaged cords. Don’t run cords under the carpet as they can overheat and catch fire.
  • Oven/Stove: Clean grease from the oven to prevent grease fires. Potholders, curtains and towels can catch fire, so keep them away from burners. Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Matches, lighters and candles: These are a major cause of children’s deaths. Keep them out of reach and out of sight of children, preferably locked up. Always blow out a candle before you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Fireplace: Use a metal screen or glass door in front of the fireplace. Have fireplaces and chimneys inspected and cleaned once a year.
  • Space heaters: Avoid using electric and kerosene heaters. If they must be used, keep them away from clothing, bedding, curtains and furniture. Always turn them off and unplug them when you leave the room or go to bed. Make sure kerosene heaters are well ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Furnace: Have it inspected once a year. Do not store anything near it that could catch fire.
  • Dryer: Lint can catch fire, so clean it from the dryer’s filter after every load.
  • Paint, paint thinner, gasoline, propane, kerosene and ammonia: Store flammable liquids in their original containers, with tight-fitting lids. Store them away from heaters and out of children’s reach, ideally locked up in a shed outside the home. Never use gasoline as a cleaning agent.
  • Children’s pajamas: Make sure children’s sleepwear is flame-retardant or close fitting.
  • Doors and windows: Keep them clear of furniture and stored boxes. Make sure they can open easily in the event of fire.

And OOOOOOOH yes I’ve been there as an educator and is it ever hard to keep an audience’s attention, especially if they have heard nothing else but the common don’ts before in the public safety messaging. What we are being taught or not tends to be dependent upon several factors, like; whether the fire department has the time, funding, resources, and human capital to be out teaching all ages and walks of life, and not just at Fire Prevention Week but solid programs all year long! For public education to have a lasting impact it involves more than information sharing or telling people what to do like get smoke alarms, have a home escape plan, stop drop and roll, and prevent fires. Of course this is good information but the public needs to understand fire and the dangers attached to it.

What has this article taught you? Would you like to test your knowledge now?

Do we — or Should we Teach Preschoolers Fire Safety

If we are not teaching preschoolers fire safety then sadly we are failing in the world of starting them young to prevent!

Young children can understand “Stop” or “No”, but they cannot understand “Do not run onto the street because you will get hit by a car”. They are too busy concentrating on running without falling over, and anyway, they did not get hit by a car last time they ran on the road.

Are fire services teaching preschoolers fire safety and if so is the message sticking with the little ones who need it the most? How do we even know what the learning outcomes are using the materials we have available to us as educators? In my experience as a fire chief (retired now), usually these materials are in short supply or very limited, like don’t touch we don’t have enough.

When we say we are teaching them young, mostly the preschool fire education items we use anyways are handouts left in the hands of parents or the caregivers to reinforce the message back at home. So this is prime-time to educate kids together with the adults in their lives. And when we do present to preschoolers, especially with adults in tow, the glazed over look on those faces can be very intimidating to an ill-equipped firefighter or educator. So a critical item to also know is teaching tools can make or break us as fire and life safety educators.

Young children need to have a safe environment at home, why?

• Because they are too young to take care of their own safety;
• Because they cannot understand danger, and;
• Because a parent just telling them about danger, while important, does not always keep them safe.

Keeping young children safe is an adults responsibility so as educators we want to see parents and caregivers staying with their preschoolers for their fire safety lessons. When in fact most fire and life safety education programs are geared towards the school age kids, its the kids under the age of five who have a much higher risk of dying in a residential fire compared to children in other age groups.

Most injuries to young children happen at home, so as parents it is very important to make your home as safe as possible. Understand the hazards that exist around you.

  1. Young children cannot understand danger. They cannot understand that they might get hurt or even killed even when you have told them about the danger.
  2. Young children can understand “Stop” or “No”, but they cannot understand “Do not run onto the street because you will get hit by a car”. They are too busy concentrating on running without falling over, and anyway, they did not get hit by a car last time they ran on the road.
  3. Toddlers may understand “no” but they may not have learned to obey it yet.
  4. Young children only look at where they are going to (chasing a ball, running to a friend) – they have ‘tunnel vision’.
  5. They cannot judge whether something, such as a car, is moving, or how fast it is moving.

Victims of Nova Scotia house fire were all children under the age of 8, relative says. Jan 8, 2018, The Star

It is a fact that young kids aren’t as capable of exiting a home on their own or understanding the dangers of fire risks.

Parents must take extra precautions to reduce fire risk in the home, including installing fire safety equipment and preparing comprehensive safety and evacuation plans to ensure children escape safely. Children of between the ages of 3-5 generally lack the mental faculties to understand the need and the means of quickly escaping from a burning structure. Even in their own homes, very young children lack an understanding of how to escape.

Physiologically, young children are susceptible to severe injury or death from fire.

A young child’s skin is quite thin and delicate compared to that of adults and older children. As a result, young children suffer burns more quickly and easily than adults. In addition, smoke inhalation from the toxic gases released by fires (and often in conjunction with burns suffered in the fires.

For parents, the dangers of fire are so apparent that the sight of a child anywhere near a flame is enough to send them scrambling. And fortunately, most kids are wary of fire and understand that it can hurt them and others. But it’s not unusual for kids to be curious about fire, too. After all, we enjoy campfires and singing over birthday candles. That’s why it’s so important to educate kids about the dangers of fire and to keep them away from matches, lighters, and other fire-starting tools.

Even with the best efforts from parents, kids might play with fire. Most of the time this can be handled by explaining the dangers and setting clear ground rules and consequences for not following them.

For most adults, knowing to get out of a house on fire comes as second nature. But children respond in just the opposite way. To escape fire, they often try to hide under a bed, in a closet, or behind furniture. They even hide from the firefighters trying to save them. When you look at things from a child’s point of view, it’s easier to understand their actions. Appropriate supervision and visual guidance ( like show and tell) of children, especially the youngest, is one of the most effective means of preventing injury or death from all sources.

Give the Gift of Fire-ED to the Kids in Your Community

Most home fires start at night when everyone is sleeping. When awakened, kids are groggy and confused. Smoke fogs their vision, which is made even worse by coughing and watering eyes. Plus, fire is loud, blindingly bright, swift moving, and frightening.

When firefighters enter into a burning home, they’re in full protective gear, including face masks and oxygen tanks. They may have an ax or fire hose. Firefighters breathing into masks sound frightening, not all that different from Darth Vadar of the movie “Star Wars.”

To further complicate matters, a young child’s logical thinking hasn’t matured. To them, out of sight means out of harm’s reach. They falsely believe that not seeing fire means it can’t find them. Those factors combine to put kids at greater risk of dying in a house fire than an adult.

Hundreds, if not Thousands, of People Die or Become Badly Injured in Preventable Fires Each Year. Don’t Become One of These Statistics! Fire-ED Fire News Tracker 

Get the tools and training to parents, caregivers, and preschool teachers so they can fight against the odds.

Start teaching kids young, even as young as the age of 2-5 because with the support of parents, daycare and preschool teachers, they will retain fire safety and survival skills just like they are learning when they are read a story or how to use a new toy.


  1. When a house fire starts, children can become very afraid and confused. They may not understand what is happening or how they should react.
  2. With as little as two minutes to escape unharmed they must know how to crawl low to the ground with their mouths covered if there is smoke and to feel for a hot door before exiting a room.
  3. Teach children never to hide from firefighters.
  4. Teach children to NEVER return to a burning building.
  5. Children’s sleepwear is required to be flame-resistant or snug fitting. Only allow your children to sleep in pajamas, not “day wear,” such as T-shirts or sweatpants.
  6. Teach children to STOP, DROP, COVER THEIR FACE and ROLL if their clothing catches on fire.

There are certain life safety skills to develop as adults who are dealing with young children. Make the learning active and participatory; keep the lessons short, but repeat them to reinforce the key concepts; and check on how well the children remember what they learned. This is particularly important if you are teaching two different behaviors in combination, such as “get low and go” or “stop, drop, and roll.”

Preschool-age children are at greater risk for home fire deaths and burns. Yes their developmental capabilities make learning about fire safety particularly challenging. Fire safety education is always done with the best intentions, but if we do not understand how preschoolers learn, we might be doing them more harm than good.

The stove is HOT – the fire place and fire pit is HOT = We don’t touch hot things – out of the kitchen when mom is carrying something to the sink – the water is HOT.

As parents, caregivers, daycare and preschool teachers we all should learn how to teach our child to respect fire or heat when they are very young at home. In a two story window we can get purchase escape ladders that attach to the window sill on the outside and can be opened easily.

Being able to identify basic learning characteristics and having knowledge of how preschooler learns is critical so here are more things to ask your local fire department about so you know:

1. The learning characteristics of 3-5 year olds:

a) They learn by seeing and doing.
b) They model parents and adults in their life.
c) They have predictable fears.
d) They cannot distinguish fantasy from reality (that’s why Sparky is so successful in helping teach fire safety.)

2. Instructional methods to use when working with 3-5 year olds:

a) Get down on their level (sit on floor or in chair.)
b) Use only positive behaviors (do not use fear.)
c) Active repetition.
d) Teach 1 behavior and NO MORE than 20 minutes.
e) Use words that are on the child’s level. Example: hot, hurt, burn, not words like apparatus, gear and dispatch.

3. Examples of appropriate activities for preschoolers:

a) Flannel board activity for exit drills at the school.
b) Puppet or clown show about fire safety.
c) A “Follow the Leader” game that teaches crawling low in smoke.
d) Using a picture game to identify burn hazards.
e) Using toys and objects to represent potential burn hazards.
f) Using music and songs to convey a burn safety message.
g) Demonstrate “Stop, drop, and roll” and have kids repeat.

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Engaging Firefighters in Community Risk Reduction

The general goal of any fire prevention organization is to prevent the loss of life and property damage due to fire.

Engaging firefighters in community risk reduction efforts is an effective measure to take towards continuing the cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation of fire and life safety education programs. Measuring the effectiveness of programs and proving the activities are tracked and demonstrated, will bring in community support for the department to keep public education programs ongoing, and current.
The fire service does many things by themselves. Community Risk Reduction should not be one of them. The first word, “Community”, should let us know this. Without Community Risk Reduction Partnerships, our greatest efforts in Community Risk Reduction will fall short. There are many existing organizations that can and will push our CRR programs much farther than if we attempt to do them on our own. Brent Faulkner,

Read: Firefighters Pave The Pub Ed Highway

The way forward for firefighters.

Community involvement is critical for firefighters to ensure the public is informed and properly educated. Plan on conducting home visits and having discussion with community members and groups who can provide feedback on your current programs, and:
  • Dress professionally in a uniform that clearly identifies you with your department.
  • Ensure a full supply of resources and handouts are available.
  • Work only in teams, of at least two people.
  • Remember the primary goal of the CRR “mission” is to eliminate hazards to life and property. Be able to clearly articulate this to your community.

Try the MBIntel Virtual CRR on How to Engage Community Risk Reduction Partnerships to put the “Community” in CRR. READ MORE


The Guide for Training Fire Service Personnel to Conduct Community Risk Reduction, provides direction for fire departments to design and implement the community risk reduction plan.  A key component for effective risk reduction is face-to-face interaction with community members.  This can be achieved through public events, fire station visits, and, most effectively, home visits. Community risk reduction programs, and fire crews involvement in them, produces three distinct benefits.

Material distribution.

Home visits, interaction, and direct contact with the public can provide an excellent opportunity to distribute and discuss fire prevention, life safety, and emergency preparedness literature. With the abundance of documents and materials available, make sure that the selected items and literature are directly tied with the communities risk reduction plan and goals.  Fire department personnel should take advantage of these opportunities to to answer questions and create conversations that promote risk reduction initiatives.

Supports other programs.

Personal interactions and home visits improve the public perception of the fire department, and allow the promotion of additional fire protection and life safety programs. Based on the conditions or personnel observed, some programs that may be promoted include:
  • smoke alarm installation
  • CO detection and alarm installation
  • radon dangers and awareness
  • residential fire sprinklers
  • fire escape planning
  • Drowning prevention
  • senior citizen risks and fall prevention
  • Fire safety for children

Continuity of CRR programs.

Effective community risk reduction is an endless cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Home visits and discussion with community members and groups can provide feedback on current programs, and data for future community needs.  As these programs gain traction and their effectiveness is tracked and demonstrated, community support for the department and CRR will be enhanced.

As House Fires Increase During Cold Weather Months

As weather and human activities change with the seasons of the year, so does the incidence, cause and severity of fires during the cold weather months.

Cold winter weather increases indoor activities and the need for heating, which brings about the peak period of heating structure fires. The use of candles and extra electric lighting may be used to celebrate other events. In the winter, structure fires increase, although total fires decrease. A substantial portion of the structure fire increase is caused by heating fires. Winter also sees an increase in outside fires caused by open flame−fires ignited by matches, open fires (including campfires), and embers. In fact, open flame is the second leading cause of outside winter fires, after incendiary or suspicious fires, possibly the by−product of fires initially lighted for warmth.

As house fires increase during  cold weather months the Fire-ED Interactive Community recommends taking extra precautions towards eliminating preventable fires. Call your your local fire department to provide your family with proper education on fire safety in your home, not just at winter, but all year long.

Second week of January is historically the worst for fire deaths

Insurance companies and fire departments actually prepare for more fires during December, January and February. Fire departments and insurance companies understand the true nature and scope of seasonal fires, so check in to see if the public education programs in your community are geared towards seasonal fire problems. Following  are some of the common problems and tips for you and your family to be aware of:


Fires caused by candle use are common during the holiday and winter season. If you burn candles, make sure they aren’t close to objects that will catch on fire. Don’t leave burning candles unattended, and keep them away from children.


Cooking is a relaxing and fun activity that brings friends and family together. It’s also a major cause of home fires and injuries. Be alert while you are cooking, especially if you’re using high heat such as in frying. Keep flammable items away from the cooking area and be sure to turn off all cooking equipment.


A common contributor to house fires is an electrical failure or malfunction. The leading areas of electrical fires are bedroom, kitchen, attic and garage. Overloading circuits is a known common hazard as is the clothes dryer. Make sure to clean the air duct regularly and clean the lint screen after each use.

Garage fires. 

Fires beginning in the garage are also a top source of house fires in winter, due to highly flammable materials stored. Ideally, these materials should be stored in a shed away from the home. To avoid a garage fire, install a heat alarm that will sound if the temperature rises too high.


Space and baseboard heaters are common causes of home fires. Failure to properly clean the heaters is a leading contributor. Placing objects that burn too close to the heating equipment or placing the heaters too close to flammable objects is a leading cause of fire. If your home is heated with baseboard heaters, make sure furniture is a reasonable distance from them. Check often to see that nothing has fallen close to the heaters.

At Fire-ED we encourage families to utilize the following safety precautions to avoid common winter fire hazards and help prevent fire-related fatalities:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Check electrical cords for space heaters and other appliances to make sure they are not frayed or damaged.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Test your smoke alarm batteries monthly and replace them at least once a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older.
  • Make a home fire escape plan. Have two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.


  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

It is the Fire-ED Interactive Community’s mission to eliminate preventable fires and help reduce the impact of fire related injuries, fire fatalities and loss of property. With the growing number of house fires this winter season we  hope you will  find value in these tips and recommendations for heating your home in the winter. Please share this page with your friends and loved ones.

Are Current Fire Prevention and Education Models Failing Us?

Fire prevention is not a rocket science. The challenge the fire service faces is its implementation.

Fire prevention implementation failure, and the lack of sustainable solutions, could be a leading cause of the increased number of deadly fires we are seeing worldwide. Despite all knowledge we have in the fire service,  there are only a few countries in the world where residential sprinklers are mandatory. And there are just a few countries in the world where kids are systematically and permanently educated about fire prevention. Collectively and including members of the community (not just the fire service members) we must do better at saving lives and reducing alarming statistics and even poverty as a result of far too many fires ongoing.

The Fire Problem. Perhaps sustainable solutions are within reach.

This past year has proven difficult from fire safety perspectives. We were faced with devastating and fatal fires such as Grenfell Tower fire in London (UK), with deaths of 79 residents, December 29th a residential building fire in the Bronx (USA) with 12 casualties, and the recent Liverpool car park fire (UK) which destroyed about 1,400 cars. Although the consequences of these fires are alarming, it is even more questionable of how this happen in the 21st century when we know almost everything about fire prevention, fire protection, and fire risks. Though is it entirely true that we know it all? Maybe there is more to learn. Perhaps sustainable solutions are within reach if only more attention was paid to the critical need for fire and life safety education.

Criminal charges possible in Grenfell Tower fire in London

We all will have to find a systematic and sustainable approach.

Notably, risk factors associated with unintentional house fire incidents, injuries, and deaths in high-income countries have increased in the past five years. Recently we have seen an increased number of fires in the UK, U.S., and some European countries. New materials, rapid fire spread, new dynamic lifestyles, community/fire brigade budget cuts and poverty increase fire fatality risk. It seems that existing fire prevention models have failed and that fire safety is more and more a social problem.

Public Sector Lacks Critical Competencies — Turns to Social Business Models

For fire dynamics a great deal of research has been conducted concerning the predictors of fire development and material burning. Though there is an unusual shortcoming concerning sustainable fire prevention measures. With fire prevention, we are trying to prevent and stop fires from happening. Fire prevention is a proactive method of reducing preventable fires and the damage caused by them.

Fire prevention has four important goals:

  1. The first goal is Life Safety, which is to prevent injury and loss of life. Human life and health always take top priority in an emergency.
  2. The second goal of fire prevention is to Prevent Property Damage and negative impact on the environment.
  3. The third goal of fire prevention is Protection of Operations. By preventing fires and limiting damage, we can assure that work operations will continue without interruption.
  4. The fourth and the final goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires and be educated about surviving them. It is a constant push to promote and implement active and passive protection measures. It has been said that fire department spend only 1% to 4% of its operating budget on public education.

Fire prevention is not a rocket science. The hardest part is its implementation. In fact, fire prevention implementation failure and the lack of sustainable solutions can be the cause of an increased number of fires worldwide.

Fire prevention implementation is the tough part of an ongoing fire risk reduction process. It is also very difficult to collect data and measure fire prevention effects. Unfortunately, fire prevention can be very costly and time consuming, although that can be solved with public/private partnerships and social entrepreneurship.

Did 12 Die in NYC to Teach Others, or Suffer on Deaf Ears!

Sadly we close out 2017 with 2281 home fire fatalities in the USA alone. A total of 12 innocent folks, including 4 children, tragically perished in a fire in NYC on December 29.

For those in fire prevention and education it is all we talk about all year long, more preventable fire fatalities. And for others we make it our business to work daily on finding solutions to “the fire problem”. What some of us know for certain is here’s an all too familiar topic where we know that most of the people think for only a short while about how this is so sad, too bad.  When we should actually bring the media’s eye to each community and its fire department’s safety concerns; fire hazards, and sprinkler systems, AND constant public education.

It was the deadliest fire in the city in more than a quarter-century!

At least 12 people were killed when a fire fueled by gusty winds tore through a century-old apartment building in the Bronx on a frigid Thursday night, New York City Fire officials said. In addition to the deaths, four people were critically injured and two people sustained non-life-threatening injuries, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference late Thursday. The youngest among the dead was 1 year old, the oldest over 50. “It is unspeakable, and families have been torn apart.”

Fatal NYC fire started by 3-year-old, playing with stove, official says

Regardless if you live in a house, in an apartment building, or work in an office or shop, is it about city areas or country borders or is more based upon worldly views and education vs prevention?

Yes when you drill down, the cause of the fire was found!  But not the prevention in action! The building, constructed of plaster and brick, was not fireproof. It was built in 1916 and had more than 20 units, according to property records. City records appeared to indicate that as of Thursday the building had six open violations, including one for a defective smoke detector on the first floor.

Fire Prevention is broad sword wielded by many agencies and groups but like any prevention are people looking at or taking the message all the way!?

Yes for years; Fire prevention is a function of many fire departments. The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires, and be educated about surviving them. It is a proactive method of reducing emergencies and the damage caused by them.  But at what cost (NOTHING RUNS FOR FREE) and that includes resources and time of fire agencies.

Time and time again, although the Thin Red Line tries their level best to teach and show kids and adults about fire education and prevention, like law enforcement they can not be everywhere at all times and talk with everyone!

It is not JUST about the fire truck or fire drills, fire prevention and education covers a vast amount of topics in ALL AGE GROUPS including ensuring employees are aware of their responsibility to report dangers at work. Some preventative measures are;

  • Control sources of ignition
  • Have chimneys inspected and cleaned regularly
  • Treat independent building uses, such as an office over a shop as separate purpose groups and therefore compartmentalize from each other
  • Ensure cooking food is always attended
  • Closing doors in fires events can help but other doors in the building must be considered too

There are 3 types of door closers to note:

  1. Self-Closing Fire Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.101 “Doors that, when opened and released, return to the closed position”. In simpler terms, every time the door is pushed open it will return to the closed position immediately via the closer arm (see picture). These doors are continuously kept in the closed position except when someone is walking through the door.
  2. Automatic Closing Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.6 – 3.3.7, An automatic-closing door is a door that is normally held in the open position, but closes when the automatic-closing device is activated. The automatic-closing device is a device that causes the door to close when activated by a fusible link or detector. Though NFPA does allow fusible links they are not the most effective and reliable method to ensure your fire doors close in case of a fire. A fusible link is heat activated, meaning it must be exposed to fire before it can melt and release the fire door to close. This helps prevent the spread of flame, but a fusible link will not help to slow the spread of smoke. A smoke detector can sense smoke in the air, and sends a signal to close the fire door before flames can reach the door.
  3. Power-Operated Fire Door – According to NFPA 80 3.3.92 Power-Operated Fire Doors are doors that normally are opened and closed electrically or pneumatically. Power operated fire doors shall be equipped with a releasing device that shall automatically disconnect the power operator at the time of fire, allowing a self-closing or automatic device to close the door regardless of power failure or manual operation. (NFPA 80 This means, power-operated fire doors must be integrated with the fire alarm system of the building. This will allow the fire alarm to deactivate the open doors, and retract them into the closed position should there be an electrical or power failure.

    Annex A of NFPA 80 recommends that automatic-closing doors are closed when the building is unoccupied.

Fire prevention also covers building codes and items like WORKING MAINTAINED smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and even sprinkler system in place to prevent the spread or early suppression of fires.

The next is thinking way past the common fire items. What about the other items like;

  • Provide no-smoking signs at appropriate locations
  • Ensure smoking area(s) are away from flammable materials
  • Arrange for cigarettes and matches to be disposed of safely and away from other combustible rubbish
  • Ensure all work equipment protects against catching fire or overheating
  • Ensure proper housekeeping, such as preventing ventilation points on machinery becoming clogged with dust or other materials – causing overheating
  • Have electrical equipment serviced regularly by a competent person to prevent sparks and fires
  • Properly clean and maintain heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers (inspected and tested yearly), ovens, stoves, and fryers. Require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
  • Use a planned maintenance program to properly maintain plant and equipment. Review your program if you already have one.

A planned maintenance program should deal with;

  • frictional heat (caused by loose drive belts, bearings which are not properly lubricated or other moving parts)
  • electrical malfunction
  • flammable materials used in contact with hot surfaces
  • leaking valves or flanges which allow seepage of flammable liquids or gases
  • static sparks (perhaps due to inadequate electrical earthing)

And portable heaters:

  • Do not use portable heaters unnecessarily.
  • They should have emergency tip-over switches, and thermostatic limiting controls.
  • Turn them off if people leave the room or are going to sleep
  • Ensure they are 1M away from anything that can burn
  • Do not use them to dry clothes

There’s even the commonly used items that we have in our business or homes they mostly all run on electricity. Check electrical equipment and remove defective equipment;

  • Ensure electrical cords are in good condition
  • Plug appliances and lights into separate electrical outlets
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you require an outlet in an area where there is none, have one installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Use extension cords safety – not under carpets or across walking areas
  • Use only one device per outlet

Prayers always to the those who are innocent and victims of fire regardless of age, race, religion or demographic. Fire knows no borders nor serves no master, it only consumes those trapped by its fire claws.

Sharing Safety Education with Media — Why is it so crucial?

As an owner of a public relations firm, I’ve made a career as a storyteller. I know that being remembered for your story is a very important goal to achieve, particularly for anyone with education that benefits the media, and fellow members of our community. First responders are often public safety educators; the general public looks up to them day in and out, and as a society, we want to know your story.

With no shortage of safety related incidents, wildfires, and preventable home fires reported in the news today, I know that life safety education is becoming increasingly important. But the regular citizen only knows what we know until we are taught differently! Sure, first responders still visit schools to educate children, and hopefully the daily drill gets passed along to parents when kids come home from school.

A firefighter came to my 2nd grade class to talk about fire safety. I remember asking what to do if there was a fire in my home because I didn’t have a window to escape through. “Get more smoke alarms” was the message I recall. I am not sure whether children today pass the answers to the questions they ask along to their parents.

All parents and caregivers, renters, home owners, or anyone with a roof over their head should know what to do in an emergency. But what if we forget the drill we got taught at school, and isn’t there more for adults to know than what we were taught in 2nd grade?

Here’s a question that stands out in my mind when I see the constant stream of tragedies around us. What are most of us adults, young and old, including those without children, being taught about safety measures? From where are we gathering this information that we should be constantly reminded of and trained for? We read about endless tragedies in the news. For most of us I am sure it makes us think of how we can best prepare ourselves and families in the unfortunate event of a carbon monoxide leak, house fire, or any other disaster like a wildfire.

Safety educators MUST hit those life saving messages home. One of the most crucial and underestimated ways for getting life saving information to the public is through our friends in the media: Newspapers, TV, radio, and online outlets.

Public and private partnerships, including business owners, service clubs, and all community stakeholders, should team up for safety’s sake! So for the first responders, tasked with promoting awareness and life safety education initiatives, what are you doing to ensure your important message is constantly in front of the public? Exactly how would a fire or police officer know how to go about sharing their education with the media and leverage that partnership to drive life saving messages home? Keep reading.

First responders have a responsibility, even more than the average adult or business owner, to share their knowledge and expertise with the general public. After all, the most dramatic or impactful stories in the news often involve life or death situations! Give us some more, what can we do to make sure that bad news does not happen to us?!

People tend think that appearing in the news requires a special skill or the right connections, but anyone can learn how to be a media expert.

In the spring of 2017, I was very lucky to meet fellow social entrepreneur Tracy Last, Chief Inspiration Officer at Fire-ED. We crossed paths at the B Corp Leadership Development Conference for social entrepreneurs. She approached me and we did some brainstorming and created a spin off to our “Be Your Own Public Relations (PR) Star in 90 Days” online course. It was without hesitation for me to team up with Tracy in an endeavor to help our first responders, and Fire-ED Community Safety Facilitators, with the opportunity to enroll in our “Be A Fire Safety PR Star” online course.

It’s one thing for educators to teach life safety, but another to know how to use the media to share this precious knowledge.

Hearing about Tracy’s impact business for eliminating preventable fires through innovative educational approaches really stood out for me. Tracy realizes that public relations is critical component for any successful community outreach program. We discussed the licensing of my course specifically for the fire and life safety and education professionals with whom she does business.

Be a Fire Safety PR Star at Fire-ED Interactive

Safety stories can save lives if you know where and how to tell them. In the Be a Fire Safety PR Star online course you’ll learn about how to:

  • Contact the media and find the ideal time to tell them your story
  • Build a media list and nurture relationships
  • Create a plan and budget
  • Communicate and follow up with media
  • Leverage your media coverage
  • Measure your success
  • And most importantly, how to do it all in a way that’s authentic to you, not how other PR firms might tell you to.

Since I was a child in school I’ve personally gained an immense respect for first responders who came to visit our classrooms. Whether it be fire, ambulance, or police officers, or any community safety educators, I believe that our interactions are ones we don’t easily forget. Those in the role of educating children and the public on safety precautions can easily demand media attention. It’s my business’s mission to ensure all important societal issues get noticed and shared.

Thank you for allowing me to share my knowledge with you, and I wish you the best in your journey as a Fire Safety Public Relations Star! ~ Sandra

Be a Fire Safety PR Star course registration links to be posted soon. Contact us to find out more.

Firefighters Paving the Pub Ed Highway

Circumstances are changing with the fire service and new teaching resources make it easy for firefighters paving the pub ed highway!

Fire-ED lost child

Firefighters paving the pub ed highway require proper training to teach life skills that our community’s children desperately need. Kids lack strong role models and don’t know how to take care of themselves or each other. They miss out on opportunities to learn to develop as responsible contributors to society.

Fire-ED is a social impact business that brings proven fire and life safety curriculum and new approaches to train firefighters in the endeavor to mentor and teach kids well. For as we know, when we don’t provide proper behavior skills training for children the result can be horrendous!

Firefighters are seeing first hand the failure of our system to teach these kids properly. Thousands of kids in burn camps, fire deaths that could have been prevented and destroyed families all because we fail to bring proven fire prevention education to their children. Circumstances in the fire service are changing and old school ways of thinking and teaching have to change to meet the critical need for saving kids from preventable fire tragedies.

Tragically, so many existing public education programs do not do the job the way we are lead to believe.

Evidently, recent coroner’s inquests into fire deaths and injury claim the number of children dying in preventable fires is unacceptable. The Office of The Chief Coroner in British Columbia and Ontario made recommendations stating the critical need for sound public education programs to be developed. 

Fire-ED has the programs readily available and can save the fire service hundred’s of thousands of dollars and years of time to research and develop the required resources.

And we have the human capitol needed to educate more often (than just once per year at fire prevention week). Firefighters already have a strong and deeply rooted desires to save lives and property. Together with Fire-ED we can fix societal issues like the “fire problem” while saving lives and restoring community.

The fire problem is massive thus fire safety should be part of the school curriculum in communities worldwide. Keep in mind the number of firefighter’s lives that are at risk every time they respond to one of these preventable home fires. Now read these firefighter fatalities stats and think of how public education could have avoided these tragic losses.

To put and end to preventable fire tragedy we need MORE PEOPLE to embrace Fire-ED’s innovative public education initiatives.

Firefighters paving the pub ed highwayThe Fire-ED Interactive Community supports the fire service’s efforts to make communities safer places to live. Fire-ED gives firefighters, and anyone who wants to assist, the training, teaching tools, technology, a solid community involvement strategy and ongoing support.

Time plays in heavily and booking educational sessions can be a challenge when firefighters are on active duty and taking emergency calls. The Fire-ED Interactive System makes life easy for everyone!

Fire-ED faces any challenge head on and loves to intrigue the most reluctant firefighters who confess they are just not that interested in performing public education duties.

While hosting fun days and public events can be a lot of fun for everyone, some firefighters may confess they are just not that interested in performing public education duties. Some will say they are not quite sold on sifting through binders of printed material, dressing up in mascots, and giving out plastic fire helmets. While we’re not saying ban mascots, this is “edutainment” that kids enjoy. It is important for firefighters to receive proper training and also realize what true public education is.

The Fire-ED Interactive System is the tool firefighters will love and use!

  • It’s taught year round (and it is easy for firefighters to pick up on it)
  • It’s interactive for the kids – so they get the full educational benefit
  • It’s empowering – kids who graduate from the program become teachers themselves and serve as role models to their peers
  • It’s fun for the kids AND the firefighters too (you have to keep it fun if you want it to stick for all of us on the learning and teaching end!)
  • It’s community engagement through technology – through use of social media tools, a Facebook for firefighters and the community they serve
  • It’s stats – Most current systems of teaching are not scalable or tracking the results. The Fire-ED LMS is a robust reporting system for tracking learning outcomes and providing results to national databases.