Start Spreadin' the News
Introducing the NFPA Public Educator Network
NFPA Journal, March/April 2010
One of the key objectives in NFPA's Public Education Division's strategic plan is to increase dissemination of audience-appropriate materials with current information and technology. In 2008, we launched the Public Educator Network as a way to reach every state and province with our safety information. We set out to create a team of representatives that could distribute information and listen to concerns of their communities. We saw this network as our eyes and ears because NFPA, as a national organization, is challenged to reach out to every community.
The program is designed to reach a targeted group: state and provincial public educators. Over the past two years, we’ve contacted numerous state and provincial fire marshals and public education groups to find the right people to become network members. So far, we’ve done quite well, with 62 members. We are only missing representatives from two states—Kansas and Wyoming—and hope to complete the network this year.
Our goal is to brand NFPA as their primary source for fire and life safety information. To do so, we created a charter of expectations for the network members so they clearly understand the program, and we motivate the network through ongoing contact, visits, and an annual meeting. We also contact members at least bi-monthly to discuss fire and life safety issues and concerns and to offer advice on implementing fire and life safety projects. In addition, we visit each member at least once a year to offer our expertise in strategic planning and, in some cases, to present at conferences. We also provide the latest NFPA statistical reports, changes to our website, information on public education materials, and more, and we give network members an opportunity to evaluate our effectiveness each year.
How is it working? Pam Bright from Indiana praises the network for always being available and willing to help with whatever she needs.
"You can either go directly to their website or call them for information on fire statistics, new products, and safety tips," she says. "The network is always providing me with new material to help make our Hoosiers safe."
Rebecca White of Minnesota says the network is an invaluable tool.
"I was hired by the State Fire Marshals Division in August of 2009," she says. "I came with 12 years of public school teaching experience, and seven years of experience on a fire department, both of which were an asset to my current position. However, I was at a loss for where to start and how to help departments in my state with fire safety education. I’ve used information from the public educator network in my monthly newsletters that are sent out statewide. I also pass out information on the many topics that are covered in the Safety Source newsletter. Thank you for the work you put into the network."
Mahendra Wijayasinghe from British Columbia likes being able to share information.
"I am inspired by those who have implemented innovative ways of reaching their target audiences and quick problem-solving by tapping into others who have better knowledge and experience in a specific topic," she says.
We plan to meet in Las Vegas just before the NFPA Conference & Expo® in June to spend a full day networking, discussing fire-safe cigarette implementation strategies, previewing the new Fire Prevention Week theme, and more. We’ll send network members back to their states or provinces energized and ready to reach out to their communities.
We’ve also been invited to present at a number of state- and provincial-level conferences in 2010, including the Colorado and Massachusetts Fire and Life Safety Educators Conferences and the Ontario Fire Prevention Officers Conference.
Reach out to your network representative for the latest fire and life safety information from NFPA. Email Lynne Winnett at firstname.lastname@example.org for your representative’s name and contact information.
Judy Comoletti is division director of Public Education.