Look Who’s 60
This is a big year for Sparky the Fire Dog, and you’re invited to the party
NFPA Journal, March/April 2011
Get out your flameless candles, but don’t stack the presents in front of any exits — we’re gearing up to celebrate Sparky® the Fire Dog’s 60th birthday!
Created in March 1951, Sparky is the official spokesdog of the National Fire Protection Association, gracing brochures, posters, and scores of other materials to spread lifesaving fire safety messages. When we realized 2011 was a momentous year, we thought we should use the occasion to give Sparky a little extra visibility and to remind people that fire safety should always be top of mind.
While the old dog looks much different today than he did in the ’50s, his importance in reaching children, parents, and fire safety educators with information to keep children and families safe is just as relevant today. Even as we’ve seen significant declines in the numbers of fires and related losses over the last few decades, young children continue to have a higher risk of fire injury and death than people in most other age groups. According to NFPA’s research, children under five are one and a half times as likely to die in a home fire as the general public.
That’s why Sparky plays such an important role in communicating fire safety to kids and families. The use of games, characters, and children’s activities are key in providing safety messages in fun and entertaining ways. Children also serve as great deliverers of fire safety messages, such as when they take material home and ask their parents if their smoke alarms have been tested recently!
There will be a year full of events to celebrate 60 years of Sparky. About a month ago, NFPA launched Sparky’s Facebook page (facebook.com) so he can connect with all his fans who share his passion for fire prevention. Check out his page and “like” him. NFPA also scoured the country to find the voice of Sparky through a contest aimed at firefighters. The winner, announced on March 1, will give voice to Sparky throughout the year in videos and public service announcements.
Sparky’s website, sparky.org, will add new items to commemorate his birthday, including a virtual Sparky museum that will showcase his history through art and animation, an e-birthday card, and an exciting new game. We have also created a special tool kit for educators and parents who want to hold a Sparky-themed birthday party in their communities as a way to spread fire safety messages. It contains everything you need to host a Sparky-themed party: activity sheets, thank-you cards, games, placemats, invitations, and more. You can download the kit from sparky.org/parents.
Also on tap for 2011 are a birthday celebration at NFPA’s Annual Conference & Expo in Boston in June and a calendar of appearances that take Sparky to neat destinations throughout the year. Follow him on Facebook to get the latest on what he’s up to for his birthday and visit his website to see all the new additions.
Lorraine Carli is vice president of NFPA's Communications Division.