As firefighters, we’re proud to show off our fire apparatus, equipment and PPE. We have campaigns to change the batteries in smoke detectors and we educate children on Stop, Drop, and Roll and EDITH, reinforcing the messages for the revival campaign theme.
As we stand next to a family on the sidewalk in front of the smoking remains of their home in the wee hours of a cold winter morning, we’re grateful no one was hurt because smoke detectors alerted them in time to get out. We know they survived the fire because of the smoke detector and planned escape campaigns, yet they’re devastated because they have nothing left and may never recover from this loss.
Can we do more?
Looking back on the Fire Prevention Week slogans of the last 20 years, I find that a few are proactive messages, like “Use Candles with Care” and “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” Most of the slogans are reactive, “Know When to Go—React Fast to Fire” and “Fire Drills—the Great Escape!”
We see positive results from these campaigns, but we can do more.
The point of our revival week is fire-prevention awareness. We’re passionate in our response to calls; that’s our reaction, but now’s the time to revitalize and refresh.
The American culture looks at fire as warm, pretty, fun and controllable in social events where there are campfires, birthday candles and barbecues. It’s no small task, taking every opportunity, to change our culture and keep the public informed about how to prevent fire.
Community risk reduction means addressing issues in areas of high risk and high-call volumes, but also bringing awareness to everyday life issues. Being proactive in actually preventing fires can reduce the risk of standing on the sidewalk with yet one more family.
We can be proactive, impassioned and driven in our mission to prevent fires. We must be.