See Education Section relevant reports.
Nominees for Section Officers and Executive Board
Per the Education Section Constitution and Bylaws, this is the list of nominees presented by the Education Section Nominating Committee for officers and directors for the 2013 election. Election voting shall take place Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at the Annual Business Meeting of the Section by written ballot of those in attendance. Elected officers and Directors shall take office as the last agenda item at the Annual Meeting.
Light shines on Education Section activities
The NFPA Education Section is in the spotlight. An interview with section Chair Pat Mieszala is featured in the March/April NFPA Journal “Section Spotlight” column. Code activity of special interest to the section, upcoming board elections, and ways in which members can become more involved in section activities are among the topics covered. Mieszala also appears on the NFPA Insider, a members-only live bimonthly program that expands on her NFPA Journal interview in real-time streaming video.
“Getting the word out about the importance of public education in fire and life safety through these avenues is very exciting and meaningful,” she said. “Giving our members the opportunity to network at the annual conference and contribute throughout the year with their articles, ideas, and suggestions for our section web pages and future conference education sessions is the lifeline of this very active and dynamic group.”
If you need to access the registration page for NFPA Insider, use promotion code EDGUEST.
An innovator in public education is chosen Educator of the Year
Tracy Koslowski, public education/information manager and fire marshal for the Drexel Heights Fire District in Tucson, Arizona, has been named the 2013 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.
A third-generation firefighter, Koslowski began using NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn Preschool Program in 1993 when she was a volunteer at the Tucson Fire Department. She continues to teach it. She has also taught Risk Watch and Remembering When for many years and has expanded Fire Prevention Week in Tucson into Fire Prevention Month. During the past 10 years, she has taken the campaign to all of the schools in the district, visiting more than 40,000 students.
In response to safety concerns in the community, Koslowski implemented a babysitter training course, which teaches kitchen safety, fire safety, CPR, first aid, poison prevention, and other life safety skills. In addition, she developed the Fire Fit Cadet Program, which includes basic firefighting skills, fire and life safety training, physical fitness, and nutrition classes. Drawing guidance from NFPA’s Remembering When program, Koslowski created the Senior Citizen Fire Academy. She also created the Public Education Volunteer Team to keep the district’s public education programs operating in the face of budget constraints.
Koslowski will receive a $1,000 honorarium and will be flown to Chicago in June for an award presentation at the Opening General Session of the annual NFPA Conference & Expo. Drexel Heights Fire District will receive a $1,000 donation to support public education activities.
By Steve Welowszky
Art Pullan is celebrating more than 40 years with the fire service, having begun his career with the Brockville Fire Department in Ontario in 1972. He worked as a firefighter for eight years before becoming a fire inspector in 1980. From 1983 to 2002, he was chief fire prevention officer and was instrumental in bringing the NFPA Learn Not to Burn® curriculum to Canada in 1983. In 1991, he became an NFPA Public Education Advisor for Canada, a position he still holds. He retired from the Brockville Fire Department in 2002 and is currently the executive director of the Ontario Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council, an Ontario-based charitable organization.
Looking back over your career, what have been your most rewarding experiences in fire and life safety education?
The implementation of the Learn Not to Burn curriculum on a national level throughout Canada certainly has to be a highlight. From 1973 to 1982, Brockville (population 20,000) had the highest fire death rate of any town in Canada. During that nine-year period, 18 people died in fires. This was around 9 fire deaths per 100,000, while the provincial average was 3 deaths per 100,000. Learn Not to Burn was implemented in the school system beginning in 1983. This was done at the local level with a strong partnership with elementary school teachers. Between 1983 and 1992, there were no fire deaths in Brockville. Other highlights include being asked to become an NFPA Public Education Advisor for Canada and to join the Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council.
How has the role of the fire service changed in delivering fire and life safety education? What do you think the future holds?
The fire service has become more accepting of public education as an important component of the profession. We are seeing more specialists in public education in many fire departments; the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal developed the Fire and Life Safety Educators Certification Program in response. The resources for fire departments to deliver public education programs are of a much better quality and are more available. Technology is also playing a much bigger role in supporting the fire and life safety mission. There are still many challenges ahead for the fire service as we are only one part of the 'safety arena.' There are many organizations with worthwhile causes, and all are vying for time. As we get better at what we do and fires and fire deaths decrease, the less influence we will have. The challenge will be to keep fire safety “front and center” or “top of mind.”
You have had a long relationship with NFPA. What has that experience been like?
Phenomenal. I have been fortunate to be associated with such a first-class organization. NFPA is a leader in fire and life safety knowledge and resources, and comprises cutting-edge people in the fire service. NFPA’s forward thinking played a major role in reducing fire deaths not only in Brockville, but across Ontario and throughout Canada.
You have been involved with the Ontario Fire Marshals' Public Fire Safety Council since its inception in 1993. What have been some of the accomplishments?
One of the early initiatives was the Alarmed for Life Program, which was adopted by fire departments throughout Ontario. Very successful, it focused on home inspections and smoke alarm installations. The Council was also a strong supporter of the fire marshal in getting smoke alarm legislation passed in Ontario requiring smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside of sleeping areas. In my role as executive director, I am responsible for sponsorships and funding. We try to work at the grassroots level with fire departments to provide them with the resources and tools they need to conduct fire safety education in their communities. For example, each year during Fire Prevention Week, we subsidize the FPW kits to fire departments. For a cost of $400, they receive material worth more than $1,500. Since its inception, the Council has raised in excess of $25 million in sponsorships and partnerships.
Survey Provides Insight on Section Membership
By Brian McQueen
As part of the NFPA Education Section’s strategic plan to provide a forum for fire and life safety educators and diverse coalitions to exchange information and have opportunities for development, the Section Board distributed a survey to the section membership in the spring of 2012.
Eighty section members responded. Sixty-eight percent of them work for paid fire departments and 32 percent are with volunteer departments. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents have 10 or more years of experience as public educators; 45 percent said they had attended an education session at the NFPA Conference & Expo sponsored by the Education Section; and 21 percent had attended an Education Section business meeting.
Respondents said they would like to receive section news about free training, creative fire prevention programs and techniques, seasonal messages, marine firefighting, and performance-based trainings.
Topics they would like the section to present at future NFPA Conferences include juvenile firesetter programs for people with disabilities, the latest and greatest uses of social media, professional standards and certification courses, state coalition building, and working with the media.
Respondents said the institutions, groups, or organizations their agencies partner with to provide public fire safety education activities include state agencies, schools, hospitals, veteran’s groups, universities, older adult facilities, and child care advocacy centers.
The survey results will help the Section Board update the section’s five-year strategic plan and better meet the immediate needs of the membership.
Give us your Feedback on our Educational Messages
Comments are now being accepted on NFPA’s fire safety education messages, which are used throughout NFPA’s educational programs, curricula, and handouts. The messages also provide fire and life safety educators with accurate and consistent language for use when presenting safety information to the public. The Educational Messages Advisory Committee, composed of fire and life safety experts and staff, meets each year to review the comments submitted and update the messages. The deadline for comments is May 10, 2013.
Partnership Extends Fire Department’s Reach
By Monica Colby
Bryan Beal (left) and George Austen teach elementary school children about fire safety.
During those years, Fire Marshal Dean Hunt led the prevention office in improving safety by ensuring that new buildings complied with code and negotiating with existing building owners to improve their alarm systems and install fire sprinklers. Hunt started a fire corps program that checks car seats, staffs the juvenile firesetter intervention program providing free help for families when a child starts a fire, assists with mock disaster drills, and provides food, water, and shelter for first responders at major incidents. In 2011, the department’s annual open house attracted about 3,000 attendees.
Without a consistent school program, however, the number of juvenile-set fires rose 71 percent between 2006 to 2009.
To combat the rising numbers, the fire prevention division staff reached out to two high schools as part of their 2008 fire corps effort. Both schools had impact teams that try to improve the community by leading volunteer projects and teaching elementary students how to be model citizens, avoid drugs, and discourage bullying. Coincidentally, the schools were looking for a new project and were excited to form a partnership with the fire department.
Under Fire Prevention Specialist Doug Bitton’s guidance, the impact teams learned about fire safety, wrote a script, and put together costumes and props. One high school performed for all of the kindergarten through grade 3 classes in the district and the other for grades 4 through 6 and afternoon kindergarten classes. Firefighters participated in five- to ten-minute presentations about firefighters and their gear. At the end of the program, the high school students interacted with their elementary school audience to check on what they had learned and reinforce the key messages. Teachers completed surveys and parents provided unsolicited feedback.
Three years into the program, they each have reached more than 10,000 elementary school students in 27 assemblies annually. From July 2009 to July 2012, fires in the city dropped 18.5 percent, and juvenile firesetting decreased by 72 percent, according to fire department incident reports.
Next steps for the department include reaching preschool families and improving the fire safety program for kindergarteners.
In the 2011–2012 school year, one school tried out a junior fire corps education program in which volunteer sixth grade students met after school to learn a script about staying away from things that may be hot. The students performed at several schools for kindergarten classes, Head Start preschools, and neighboring preschools. The program reached 210 students in eight assemblies. In the fall of 2013, the department will add a second junior fire corps education team at another school. The two teams should be able to reach most of the children attending preschools in the city.
Do you know your executive board?
Get to know the board officers and directors who make key decisions affecting the education section.
Pat Mieszala, Chair
Patricia Mieszala, RN, is chair of the Education Section board. She is president of Burn Concerns, National Consultant and Education Services in Burbank, California. A native of Chicago, Pat has 40 years of experience and is nationally and internationally recognized in the areas of psychiatry, burn care, rehabilitation, prevention, fire and life safety, child firesetting and juvenile arson, and injury prevention. Her prevention work has taken her to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and most Canadian provinces. She has been a public education course developer and instructor for the FEMA/DHS National Fire Academy for more than 20 years and is a specialist in the area of community program development to identify and provide intervention strategies for juvenile firesetters. Pat is NFPA’s lead public education and southwestern region field advisor.
Lynn Schofield, Vice Chair
Lynn Schofield is the fire marshal for Provo Fire & Rescue in Provo, Utah. An 18-year veteran of the department, he has been a paramedic, engine and truck company officer, EMS coordinator, and battalion chief. He is a 1996 NFPA Learn Not to Burn® champion, as well as a Risk Watch® champion. As some fire departments lose their educators due to budget cuts, Lynn wants to engage more of the rank and file firefighters in public education. He says they can educate through their actions and words while on fire calls, as well as when they’re asked to make public presentations. Lynn enjoys what he calls the ‘Aha!’ moment, when parents and children begin to adopt fire safety behaviors. Lynn has completed the United States Fire Administration Executive Fire Officer Program and is in his final semester in a Master’s of Public Administration program at Brigham Young University.
Cindy Giedraitis, Secretary
Cindy Giedraitis is regional manager at the National Fire Sprinkler Association. She works to fulfill the mission of the NFSA to protect lives and property from fire through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept within a defined geographic area consistent with the policies of the Association. She is formerly the public education officer for College Station Fire Department (CSFD) in College Station, Texas. CSFD serves Texas A&M, the fifth largest university in the United States. Through Department of Homeland Security grants, local donations, NFPA champion grants, and community development block grants, Cindy provided fire and injury prevention programming and smoke alarm installations through the CSFD to the residents at highest risk of being injured. Targeted audiences included all university students, international residents, Head Start preschoolers, elementary and high school students, and a growing population of older adults. In addition, she conducted the Citizens Fire Academy.
Monica Colby, Director
Monica Colby is the public education advisor for the NFPA Northwest Region. In addition to her consulting position with NFPA, Monica contracts juvenile fire setter intervention services for Rapid City Fire Department and Pennington County, South Dakota, and is a volunteer coordinator for the Rapid Valley Volunteer Fire Department Fire Corps. Monica began her career as a fire educator in 1998 and has spent time in Utah, Washington, and South Dakota in both fire and life safety education and as a public information officer.
Joe Flores, Director
Joe Flores is a retired Philadelphia Fire Department captain who spent many years in the Fire Prevention Division. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University and a Master of Science degree in Public Safety Administration from Saint Joseph's University. Currently, he is a safety specialist at the University of Pennsylvania and teaches in the fire science program at a community college. He served four years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and continues to serve as a U.S. Navy reservist.
Joe is a consultant for NFPA's Urban Fire Safety Task Force and an NFPA-certified fire protection specialist. Although retired from the fire department, Joe continues to give back to the department and the Philadelphia community by serving as the president of the Citizens for Fire Prevention Committee, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting the Philadelphia Fire Department’s efforts to reduce the injuries, deaths, property destruction, and environmental damage caused by fires.
Brian McQueen, Director
Brian McQueen has spent 33 years as a public school educator, school administrator, and volunteer firefighter. He is director of information and technology for the Whitesboro Central School District in Whitesboro, New York, and director for the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). He is currently president of the Oneida County Fire Chief’s Association and chair of the FASNY Web committee. He served as chair of the Alexander Treadwell Task Force on Public Fire Education in New York State and was chair of the state’s Risk Watch® coalition. Brian remains active in his public fire prevention education. He is executive director of McQueen Consulting and Grant Writing Services and plans to retire from education in September 2010.
Dena Schumacher, Director
Dena Schumacher serves as a Fire and Life Safety Education Specialist/PIO for the Champaign Fire Department in Illinois. With a background in early childhood education and communications, she joined the fire service in 1989. She has worked on local, state, and national fire and life safety education initiatives. She served as an NFPA Learn Not to Burn® Midwest regional representative; piloted the three-year Risk Watch® longitudinal study; edited the “Fire and Life Safety Education” section of NFPA’s Fire Protection Handbook, 19th edition; and wrote a portion of the section. She is also a member of the NFPA 1035 Technical Correlating Committee. Her department assisted with the original implementation of Safe Kids USA’s Start Safe program.
Dena served the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) as a three-term board member and as a member and chair of the technical correlating committee. She was a chapter author for the IFSTA Fire and Life Safety Educator manual.
Dena enjoys gardening, helping out with her family’s business, Walker’s Prairie Harvest Popcorn, playing with her nieces and nephew, and visiting family. She is active in Safe Kids, Kiwanis, and Vineyard Hope Center, a community assistance organization.
Paul Schwartzman, Past Chair
Paul Schwartzman is a licensed mental health counselor, providing counseling services to children, adolescents, and families in the Rochester, New York, area since 1981. His interest in the field of juvenile firesetting developed while on staff at the University of Rochester, where he conducted research on juvenile fire play and firesetting. Paul was a member of the team that originated the Fire-Related Youth Unit for the City of Rochester Fire Department and the BIC Corporation Play Safe! Be Safe! preschool fire safety education curriculum, both award-winning programs that address issues of children and fire. Paul has coauthored books and produced several research articles for professional journals. He also coauthored a chapter on treatment of juvenile firesetters in The Handbook of Prescriptive Treatments for Children and Adolescents and wrote a chapter on juvenile firesetting for the revised NFPA Fire Protection Handbook. Paul is the co-chair of the NFPA Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Committee. He’s a past member of the NFPA 1035, Professional Public Life and Fire Safety Educator Standards Committee, with which he worked to develop national standards for juvenile firesetter intervention specialists. Paul is also the president of the Finger Lakes Regional Burn Association.
Stephen Welowszky, Director
Stephen Welowszky is Captain – Public Education, Toronto Fire Services, the fifth largest department in North America. He is responsible for the coordination of the fire service’s core programs: school-based programs utilizing the Risk Watch curriculum, which is currently in more than 600 elementary schools; the Arson Prevention Program for Children, a collaborative intervention program for juvenile fire setters administered in conjunction with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; and the Older and Wiser Program targeting older adults.
The Education Section was authorized by the NFPA Board of Directors on May 17, 1981, and it held its first official meeting on May 19, 1981 at the NFPA Annual Meeting.
Membership in the Education Section is open to any NFPA member who holds responsibility for education in an organization or community or who shares a sincere interest in fire safety education. This membership may include, but is not limited to, persons in the fire service, business, industry, school systems and institutions, insurance companies, burn treatment centers, the public information service, and manufacturers or producers of equipment or training aids that have a direct impact on the purpose of the Education Section. The objectives of the section as set forth in its constitution are as follows:
In this Section: