Meeting people where they are for fire safety
“Covid-19 presented us with many challenges, but also gave us a fresh view.” These are the words of Jamie Everitte, Public Educator for the Fayetteville, NC Fire Department who innovated to find new ways to reach his community. Working with his local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Everitte created 4 x 6 information cards on smoke alarms and heating safety to use at the local drive through COVID vaccination clinic. Parking his very conspicuous fire safety van featuring messages such as “Stand by your Pan” and “Pay attention in the kitchen,” the smoke alarm and heating safety information, in English and Spanish, was distributed to people as they sat in their cars during the post-vaccine 15-minute wait period. With around one thousand people a day coming through the clinic, Everitte estimates he’s directly interacted and reached about 2000 people so far. “We are missing human interaction, and this is one way we can bring that, along with fire safety resources, to our community.” Fayetteville has a smoke alarm installation program, so that for people who can’t get or afford one, they can contact one of the 17 stations in the township. That smoke alarm installation program is now county-wide, thanks to the participation of the support of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs. Smoke alarm and heating information topics were chosen because of the increase in heating related fires this time of year, and while doing virtual education, Everitte has noticed something else he wouldn’t have before COVID – hearing the chirp of a low smoke alarm battery in the background in people’s homes. This provided another piece of information that smoke alarm information is critical at this time when more people are staying home, and where that chirp somehow becomes “white noise” in people’s homes. Just another example of how Fire and Life Safety Education professionals work to reach their communities, innovating along the way. For more tip sheets, videos, and other fire safety resources, go to www.nfpa.org/education. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA. Pictured above is Jamie Everitte, Public Educator for Fayetteville Fire Department at the COVID vaccine drive through clinic held at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville NC.