Keeping It Effortless
NFPA Journal®, March/April 2007
As educators in the fire safety field, we are always looking for quality information that is not only easy to understand, but also visually appealing to our audience. We often need to communicate complex information in a not-so-complex way.
The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has taken on the challenge of educating the public about the benefits of residential fire sprinklers—a life-saving technology that educators sometime overlook. HFSC has created an impressive collection of educational materials, free of charge.
As a result of several Fire Prevention and Safety grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, HFSC has taken major steps with its educational efforts over the last three years, building on the favorable response received from the homebuilding community.
“HFSC is unique because we’re the only non-commercial organization focused exclusively on home fire sprinkler education,” says Gary S. Keith, HFSC Chair and NFPA Vice President of Field Operations and Education. “Thanks to Fire Prevention & Safety grants from the Department of Homeland Security the past three years, HFSC has been able to extend its reach, yet maintain our strong and singular focus. Targeted delivery of free educational tools helps HFSC effectively serve the fire service and a large and growing broader target audience.”
The HFSC was founded in 1996 by three nonprofit organizations: the American Fire Sprinkler Association, NFPA, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association. The Coalition was formed to provide accurate information to the public about the life-saving value of installing automatic fire sprinkler protection in homes, particularly new construction of one- and two-family dwellings. In addition, the Coalition mission strives to improve the public's understanding of automatic fire sprinkler technology for homes.
This February, HFSC introduced a new Educator’s Kit for fire department public educators. It includes all of the new educational material HFSC has developed along with public relations tools that can be customized and used locally. Each kit includes a DVD with HFSC’s “Protect What You Value Most” consumer education video, the “Built for Life” builder education video, and the “Living with Sprinklers” homeowner video. The kit also includes a CD with downloadable PDF files of educational material and public relations tools.
HFSC will also introduce a new interactive Web-based educational program for school-age children featuring “Captain Splash and the Droplets.” The purpose of this appealing new program is to introduce children to this important residential fire protection technology. Initially, the program will be targeted to schools in areas that have a large number of sprinklered homes (NFPA 13D communities), to help children who live in the homes understand the life-saving benefits of fire sprinklers. The children's education program, which can be found on www.sprinklersmarts.org, is scheduled to launch this month.
“The new Web content for children in Kindergarten through Grade 5 represents an important advance for sprinkler education,” says American Fire Sprinkler Association Executive Vice President Janet Knowles, who also serves on the HFSC Steering Committee and NFPA’s Public Education Section Executive Board. “By providing general sprinkler awareness at a young age, HFSC is working to gain widespread acceptance and understanding of home fire sprinkler technology. The new Web materials will make exposure to home fire sprinklers fun and educational, for parents as well as for children.”
HFSC also has a great Web site that will walk you through any questions you may have about residential fire sprinklers. Even a sprinkler novice like me found the site easy to use and very informative.
Given my job with NFPA’s Public Education Division, I have an opportunity to review different educational material in the field. When I find easy to use, quality materials, I want to make sure all of my fire safety colleagues have access to them. I encourage you to visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s Web site at www.homesprinkler.organd get to know Captain Splash. The educational materials are available free.
Amy Lebeau is an NFPA Public Education Communications Manager.