By Steve Dornbusch, NFPA Senior Project Manager
You’ve probably heard the news by now, but Sparky®, NFPA’s official spokesdog, is celebrating his 60th birthday this year. Since my job title here at NFPA is Senior Project Manager for Public Education Products — otherwise known as “Sparky’s dad” — his birthday is a pretty big deal for me, and not just because I turned 60 this year, too.
Because of his spokesdog responsibilities — in print, on screen, and in big, furry real life — Sparky’s image, messages, and personality are very important. As I bring Sparky to life, I try to maintain strict standards for his appearance and how he’s represented in person and across many media. It’s important to maintain what I call “Sparky integrity.” Fire can be frightening to children, who are among those at highest risk from its dangers. So while I try to make Sparky fun and friendly, I’m also careful to show that he’s serious when he talks about the dangers of fire. To children, he’s an authority figure with an important message, but it’s important that he never be preachy.
Video: Steve Dornbusch describes how Sparky®'s image, message, and personality has evolved over the last 60 years.