Prevention Education: A Little Less Talk and a lot More Action

Yet another First Nations news story of a tragic and preventable fire that has had a devastating impact on a small community in Canada.

Does anyone else see the pattern here or is it just me? After 6 kids, one aged 12 and the rest younger, set fire to a structure, gravely affecting the community’s well being, where are the programs to help these children understand the consequences? How many members of the general public know we truly have a very real fire problem and want to see some action get taken? We all know where all talk no action gets us, and to us this looks like more of where that came from: We would like to see the Manitoba and federal governments help develop a fire prevention program on First Nations to educate youth about fire safety.” 

So how about a little less talk and a lot more action!?

After years of seeing the same old same old pattern of too much talk and not enough action I boldly confess; there are many in position of power and able do something, but they aren’t. Want to see if for yourself? Just read the 2016 BC and Ontario Coroner’s reports and recommendations to address the fire problem at hand.

It’s particularly “heartburn inducing” to read stories like these around Fire Prevention Week.

A sad commentary, for sure, on the lack of funding guidance, direction and funding that fire service organizations put towards sound public fire and life safety education programming, training and resources.

But what we do see a lot of is millions of dollars being spent on misleading “fire and life safety education” efforts. Fire stations tend to be more focused on buying and providing giveaways, such as plastic fire helmets, coloring books, pencils, erasers, and temporary tattoos, over investing in curriculum development and measurable educational programs. These fire department promotional efforts are more akin to propaganda and marketing. Not that marketing isn’t important for a fire department for when the community is to know what they department does and what it needs. There is a difference. Clarity is key.

So, instead of “throwing their hands up” every time a preventable fire tragedy happens, how about let’s see the [Insert Name of Province or State] and federal governments help develop a fire prevention program in [Insert Name of Community] to educate youth about fire safety. Local, state and provincial, and federal government leaders just have not had access to “true public fire and life safety education curriculum” but now with programs like what Fire-ED has to offer these authorities can finally step up and take some real action by adopting and implementing readily available, and proven, resources.

True fire and life safety education, especially for children, requires high-quality and well-designed and thought out teaching tools that “tap into” a child’s preferred method of learning, “hands on” learning. The “Fully Involved” Fire-ED Teaching Tool is just such a resource that’s proven itself with fire and life safety educators in locations across North America. Most importantly, Fire-ED provides the training, there is a critical need for not only tools and resources for doing a great job at teaching, but training the trainer is almost no-existent.

A 12-year-old boy from the community was one of six children who RCMP believe were involved in setting the blaze on Thursday afternoon. The other five children are under 12 and cannot be charged. Nepinak said he would like to see the Manitoba and federal governments help develop a fire prevention program on First Nations to educate youth about fire safety. READ MORE

It’s not a matter of “if” another preventable fire tragedy will happen, we all unfortunately know that it’s only a matter of “when” so tap into Fire-ED and help reduce the amount of “future” preventable fires.

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; FireRescue1.com and EMS1.com.

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