Reverse drive by for FPW

Creative Approaches to Fire Safety Education can Help Communities Stay Safe During the Holidays—a Busy Time for Home Fires

The holiday season is underway, and COVID-19 continues to demand ingenuity in how communities share important safety messages. Across the nation, fire departments and public educators have met the challenge head-on, using a variety of new methods to further education and outreach efforts. Fire Prevention Week 2020 may be behind us, but fire hazards have no holiday break. These next few months are a peak time for home fires, so below we will highlight a few lessons we learned from professionals in the field, so that safety remains a priority during the holidays.

Alsip Fire Department typically holds an open house during Fire Prevention Week to disseminate learning materials, but Chief Tom Styczynski and his team came up with a “Fire Prevention Week Reverse Drive-By” to accommodate the current circumstances. Residents could drive into the parking lot to receive a goodie bag full of Fire Prevention Week resources from members of the department.

Springfield Fire Department adapted to the demands of COVID-19 with a virtual approach. In a normal year, they visit the 35 public elementary schools in the area, reaching over 11,000 students and teachers with educational messages. This year, the city created a number of fire and life safety animated videos for elementary students that were made to be shared in the classroom or at home. Through the videos, local firefighters taught lessons on home hazards, cooking safety, and other topics to ensure a year of important safety messaging wouldn’t be lost due to the constraints of a virtual environment.

Duxbury Fire Department also took advantage of technology to continue outreach and education efforts despite these unusual times. Jessica Laaper produced an interactive video tour for the department, giving them a greater ability to engage the community and teach them about what goes on inside. Much like Google Maps street view, virtual visitors could explore the department and click on equipment, learning all about the tools the department uses to keep them safe.

We also saw an FPW poster contest hosted by Nassau Bay Volunteer Fire Department, live virtual cooking safety lessons taught by the Green Bay Metro Fire Department, and more. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in the kinds of creativity that educators and first responders are harnessing to inform community members about the ongoing need for fire safety, even when the pandemic has limited or put many usual events on pause.

The cold weather months mean an increase in cooking and using heating equipment, which recent research tells us are the leading causes of home structure fires. Public educators and fire departments can explore some of the tactics explored above and other out-of-the-box thinking to remind your community that fire safety is a year-round commitment. Download this winter holiday safety tip sheet for ways to celebrate safely. The Public Education page offers even more resources on how to effectively share safety messages in new ways.

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James Monahan
James Monahan
Public Affairs Intern

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