NFPA announces 2011 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year

Published on June 9, 2011
NFPA Chair Thomas Jaeger and Board member Ernest Grant (right) honor Maria Pelchar for being named "Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year".

June 12, 2011 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has named Maria V. Pelchar, Fire & Life Safety Educator for the Holyoke Fire Department in Holyoke, Mass., as the 2011 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.

The Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award recognizes a fire and life safety educator who works for a local fire department, uses NFPA's materials in consistent and creative ways, demonstrates excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community, and views NFPA as the source for safety information.

Pelchar visited 21 schools in Holyoke to teach kindergarten and preschool students about fire prevention and safety, using NFPA materials. In Holyoke’s public schools, where 85 percent of students are Hispanic and many speak English as a second language, Pelchar recognized that a change in the program was required in order to spread the message of fire and life safety in a way that all of the students could understand. She reinvented a puppet show for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students, using Sparky the Fire Dog® and his friends, to offer a bilingual show. Pelchar also conducts home visits to the elderly, providing one-on-one fire prevention education.

NFPA recognizes that educators like Pelchar are instrumental in the distribution of NFPA materials and messages, and in keeping their communities safe. NFPA presented Pelchar with a $1,000 honorarium and a Steuben crystal award at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston, Mass. today. The Holyoke Fire Department also receives a $1,000 award to enhance its fire and life safety efforts.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.  

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275