The Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award, which NFPA presents each year, recognizes educators who take the lead role in making their communities safer. The 2019 recipient is City of Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey. Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting techniques Brickey has used to successfully engage his local community in fire safety practices.
In the community of Kingsport, Tennessee, Fire Prevention Week isn’t a week-long observance in October. Fire Prevention Week runs from the beginning of August through the second week of December and Barry Brickey plays a large role in that expanded time frame.
He says that the last week of July is his slow week for presentations, but kicks of his “scheduling boom.” From the first week of school in August, until a couple of weeks before Christmas, Brickey’s schedule is packed with school visits, presentations to the general public, and fire station tours.
“Our department has become the ‘fire station visit center’ for our region,” he says. Students from neighboring counties and cities in Tennessee and Virginia visit his fire department.
“Eight companies will go out to school, neighborhood, and church festivals with handouts and fire safety stickers,” he adds. In addition to working with the American Red Cross to install smoke alarms, conducting Fire Safety Day at each elementary school and visiting Head Start, day care centers, and kindergarten classes, the department fields many requests from businesses, older adult centers, places of worship, and business groups.
What makes Kingsport Fire Department so popular? “A little humor, a lot of instruction, interaction, and practice,” Brickey says.