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2019
Each year, NFPA bestows the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award on an educator who works for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office in the U.S. or Canada and uses NFPA's materials in consistent and creative ways. The recipient demonstrates excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community, and views NFPA as the leading source for fire safety information. Only weeks remain to submit an applicationfor this year’s award. The deadline is Friday, February 15th, 2019.
Denise Hynes, public educator for Toronto Fire Services, was chosen for the 2018 award. She has been using NFPA programs and materials since 2002. She works in the fifth largest fire department in North America, in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and serves a population of nearly three million residents. Her colleagues describe her as a tireless educator who has an unbelievable passion and enthusiasm for her job.
As her award year came to a close, Hynes spoke with me about her experience.
LB:Congratulations again, Denise, for being chosen for this award last year. What were your thoughts when you found out an application was being submitted on your behalf?
DH:When my division chief advised he was submitting my name for the 2018 NFPA Educator of the Year, my first reaction was "Please don't!” As we all know, nothing in the fire service is about one person–it's all about working together as a team. Upon hearing we were chosen, I was so proud to be able to accept on behalf of ALL of the women and men of Toronto Fire Services who strive to educate as our first line of defense.
LB:What are some of your highlights from the past year?
DH:What a year!! Being presented with the NFPA Award in Las Vegas by retired Toronto Fire Services Fire Chief William Stewart; presenting on our programming to a full house at the Conference & Expo; receiving requests to present at fire services across North America; participating in an NFPA webinar; donating the honorarium to Camp BUCKO, a burn camp for children; meeting wonderful people who have become friends; and receiving messages of congratulations from my peers are just a few of the amazing things resulting from the award.   
LB: Did you have any “I have to pinch myself” moments in connection to receiving the award?
DH: In late 2018, I was honored to be asked to drop the puck at a Toronto Marlie's hockey game, and I was part of a smoke/CO Alarm education campaign with one of my original all-star hockey heroes and two of our current star players! 
LB:Wow! What a year. Is there anything you’d like to add?
DH: It has been an unbelievable, amazing and rewarding year–and a real career topper as I enter my 30th year of service. Thank you NFPA–for the honor, the amazing support over the years, for giving Canada Laura King, [NFPA Canada Public Education Representative]and sending me on my first trip to Las Vegas; I got to see the Grand Canyon and gained a first-hand appreciation of the world famous "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!" tag line. 
Last week, flames ripped through Southside Christian Childcare in Louisville, Kentucky. According to news reports, the employees were able to get all of the children out and into a nearby Home Depot building while firefighters fought the flames.
The fire departmentcredited the employees with saving the children’s lives and stated that the child-care organization’s leadership and accountability are a reflection of a well-practiced fire escape plan.
“The police department’s message is ‘Don’t drink and drive.’ Our message is to have a fire safety plan,” said Jefferson County Fire spokesman Jordan Yuodis earlier this week. “Today is a good example of a fire escape plan and it saved lives.”
All employees received a certificate of appreciation. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As the old saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas! In December, Operation Save a Life worked with Dallas Fire and Rescue to reach at-risk homes with smoke alarm installations. At the after-school event held in the Dallas area, families were able to sign up to have their smoke alarms checked and new ones installed if they needed them. As always, Sparky entertained the kids with his many music videos and
educational videos.
This event was a great ending to 2018 but more so a big beginning for the
Public Education Division at Dallas Fire and Rescue. This year the educatorsOperation Save a Life event held in Dallas Texas at the end of the year was a great way to wrap up the year but also boost work for 2019.
are out getting training, redesigning plans, and reaching more audiences. Fire marshals and educators across Texas will be attending the
North Texas FireMarshal Association Conferencein the coming weeks. They
will be learning about
educational messaging,the latest technology
updates, and how to stay current. It might only be January but Texas is heating up with all the fire prevention activities that are kicking off 2019.

E-cigarette warningElectronic cigarettes, powered by lithium-ion batteries, have ignited or exploded, resulting in severe injuries, including third degree burns, lacerations and loss of body parts. According to a study by George Mason University, injuries have been underestimated by federal agencies. A new report, published in Tobacco Control, found that there are far more e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries in the United States than past reports estimated. 
Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found an estimated 2,035 emergency department visits from e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries from 2015 to 2017, which is thought to be an underestimate since not all of the injured seek medical treatment.
The report warns that users and bystanders risk serious bodily injury from unregulated e-cigarette batteries exploding.
NFPA’s safety tip sheet on smoking safetyand the Educational Messages Desk Referenceinclude warnings about the use of e-cigarettes.
Only weeks remain to submit an applicationfor the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award. The deadline is Friday, February 15th, 2019. NFPA is looking for fire and life safety educators in the United States and Canada who have these qualifications:
· Work for a local/municipal fire department or fire marshal’s office.
· Use NFPA educational programs and materials in a consistent and creative way.
· Demonstrate excellence and innovation, reaching out to the community with NFPA materials.
The Educator of the Year receives a $1,000 honorarium, travel to NFPA Conference and Expo in San Antonio in June for an award presentation, paid conference registration, and an engraved Sparky® statue.
The local fire department receives a $1,000 donation to support public education activities.NFPA Educator of the Year statue

As I was driving home last night, I was a little surprised to see how many homes still have Christmas trees inside. I get it – it’s tough to say goodbye to the season and pack away the decorations. But there’s good reason to part ways with your Christmas tree once the holidays are over: One-third (33 percent) of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.


Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasingly flammable as they continue to dry. The longer a tree is in the home, the more of a fire hazard it becomes. Sure, all Christmas trees can burn, but a dried out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. The tragic Christmas tree fires that have occurred in recent years, which have resulted in deadly consequences for multiple family members, including young children, gravely bare this out.


NFPA statistics show that Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be serious. On annual average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to one death per 139 total reported home structure fires.

 

NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. We also offer these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re in good condition the following season:

 

  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.

 

For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the U.S. Fire Administration.

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