Have you ever gotten a phone call with news so exciting that you had to sit down after listening to what the caller had to say? That’s what happened last year when Kingsport (TN) Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey got the call that he’d been chosen the 2019 NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.
“I knew there might be a chance of being chosen, but I wasn’t sure,” he says. “When I received the call, I was very excited. I quickly told our fire marshal.”
He didn’t stop there. He got on the phone with his biggest cheerleaders.
At the time, Brickey had no idea that the awards gala at NFPA Conference in San Antonio, Texas, the honorarium, and a donation to his fire department to support public education activities, was only the beginning of the recognition he would receive for his work in the community.
“There were so many emails, messages and in-person congratulations, I lost count,” he says. “I was recognized at the City of Kingsport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting and received a proclamation from the Governor of Tennessee that was presented by the state fire marshal’s office and many of our elected state officials. All of the local media outlets came to do stories. But some of the best [acknowledgments] were the notes and congratulations from kids and parents who have taken part in our fire and life safety presentations.”
Brickey adds that becoming Educator of the Year has helped to enhance his work in public education. He encourages all public educators to apply for the award.
“I have been able to speak to groups in more places and have learned a lot from others in the Community Risk Reduction [arena]. Being able to attend the NFPA Conference and other conferences has increased my knowledge and encouraged me to look for new ways to reach the public.”
The application deadline is March 6th.