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.