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33 Posts authored by: meredithhawes Employee

Over 200 public education and community risk reduction specialists from 14 states gathered in Edison, New Jersey this week to hear from a variety of subject matter experts from across nine states at the Mid-Atlantic Safety Summit.  Topics included; the ABC's of Public Education Messaging, an update on NPFA 3000, the Remembering When Program, an overview of Regional data, and model programs from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Charles Lavin, from the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, encouraged attendees to take advantage of the networking opportunity at the event as well, noting that the concept for this Summit came out of a similar setting this past June at NFPA's Conference and Expo.

Pictured (L to R) Charles Lavin NJDFS Community Risk Reduction Unit. Meredith Hawse Pub Ed Specialist, NFPA, Richard Mikutsky, Director NJDFS and NJ State Fire Marshal, Kevin Krushinski, Chairman, NJ Fire Safety Commission.


Big, bold efforts were made in Michigan this week in effort to raise awareness for Fire Prevention Week, with an end-goal to affect the fire fatality rate that seems to be on the rise in Michigan.  A state-wide proclamation was signed by Governor Rick Snyder proclaiming October as not just Fire Prevention Week, but Fire Prevention Month, stating that "the majority of fire deaths, (4 out of 5) occur at home each year, and if you have a fire in your home you are more likely to die today than you were a few decades ago according to the National Fire Protection Association".  And he continued "Michiganders are urged to create and practice a home escape plan that includes identifying two exits from every room in the home".


State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer shared Governor Snyder's proclamation along with a Community Risk Reduction (CRR) National Fire Prevention Week Social Media Toolkit across the state encouraging prevention specialists and educators to follow the calendar that was provided, and to focus on messaging for the entire month of October. "Please also encourage your friends and family to share the daily message" he urged.


Michael McLeieer, President of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., kicked off live broadcasts for Fire Prevention Week 2018 at WOOD TV 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a great representation from fire officials from all over the state representing both the career and paid on call / volunteer fire service. Support was on hand from AARP, the NFPA, and Sparky the Fire Dog to encourage Michiganders of all ages to "Look.  Listen.  Learn.  Be aware.  Fire can start anywhere".  "Despite the cold and damp weather, it was another huge success." Michael reported, "We were able to get a lot of messaging out to the viewers".  Michael and "Jake the Fire Dog" continued to spread the fire safety messages through Jake's social media page

Last week a unique partnership came together in an effort to reach more youth in after school programming with fire safety messages.  The East Providence Fire Department, along with the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Providence, and staff from NFPA spent time together reviewing NFPA's Learn Not to Burn Program for kids preschool to grade 2.  As the Club members rolled in after school, a fire engine and energized fire department personnel and Club staff were waiting to greet them with important messages about smoke alarms and home escape plans.  The East Providence Boys and Girls Club is piloting the Learn Not to Burn Program over the next few weeks, and with over 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S., and nearly 30,000 fire departments, the opportunity for more collaboration is surely in the future!


An interview with Simon!

Posted by meredithhawes Employee Sep 27, 2018

As Fire Prevention Week draws closer and closer, the calls and emails are pouring in to NFPA’s Regional Education Specialists for assistance and direction on the tools and resources available to share this year’s theme “Look.  Listen.  Learn.  Be aware.  Fire can happen anywhere”!  It should have come of no surprise that our newest Fire Prevention Week champion and character, Simon, also received a request!  The Fire Marshals Association of Minnesota reached out the NFPA with a few key questions for Simon.  And of course, the smart and resourceful friend of Sparky the Fire Dog®, was happy to offer an interview to inform the public on the fundamentals of reducing the likelihood of fires and how to respond in the case of an emergency.


FMAM:  What is your role at NFPA?

Simon:  I am a new pal of Sparky the Fire Dog, and a spokes-character for NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week theme this year, “Look.  Listen.  Learn.  Be aware.  Fire can happen anywhere.”   

FMAM:  What intrigues you the most about fire prevention? 

Simon: This year’s FPW campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” works to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire––and how to escape safely in the event of one:

“LOOK” for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.

“LISTEN” for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.

“LEARN” two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

And as Sparky’s friend, I am helping teach this year’s FPW messages by spreading fire-safety messages to adults and children alike.

FMAM:  How does this year’s fire prevention theme, “Look. Listen. Learn.” speak to you?

Simon:  Well it speaks to me because it speaks directly to grown-ups and kids about the things that they need to do to be safe!  No matter where you are, it’s important to think about your safety from fire. Home is the place people are at greatest risk to fire, but it’s important to be aware and prepared no matter where you go.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” highlights critical ways to ensure your safety from fire, and I would like to share some ways to stay safe outside of your home:

Out and About

When you’re out and about, situational awareness is key! Remember to be aware of your surroundings and make a plan for how you would escape a building in the event of a fire or other emergency.

  • When you’re preparing to enter a building, ask yourself if it looks safe and well-maintained.
  • Check to see that doors aren’t locked or blocked from the inside.
  • Look for the two closest exits and identify the path you would take to reach them.
  • If you hear the fire alarm system sound, take it seriously and exit the building calmly but quickly. This is particularly important in larger occupancies like malls and movie theaters, where it may be too late to escape if you wait to see evidence of fire.

You can find more information, tips, and talking points on being safe inside and outside your home, here

Thanks for the interview! I hope everyone has a great Fire Prevention Week Campaign! And for my full interview click here!






The Maranda's Park Parties are a familiar and treasured summer event in West Michigan, bringing 24 years of fun in the form or entertainment, attractions, food, and tons of prizes to local communities.  One of the greatest assets in the line-up are the resources available from local non-profits, including fire safety information from nearby fire departments.


This year 5 events took place in July, and recently the Dutton Fire Department participated in Gaines, Michigan serving over 9,000 people up with a chance to learn how to keep their families safe, while also sharing what it means to be a firefighter . . . and that means a chance to spray the hose!

Kraig Herman


A new theme, and new products, combined with input and inspiration from our stakeholders across the country, have turned this year's Fire Prevention Week catalog into a "road-map for success" when planning for the October campaign, or advocating fire safety all-year-round!  And our newest FPW Advocate - Simon helps to spread the word.  "Look.  Listen.  Learn.  Be aware.  Fire can happen anywhere!"

Watch for the catalog - coming to you soon or check out all of the new FPW resources on-line!

May 17th marked the very first Fire Safety Summit in Ames, Iowa.  The Iowa State University campus provided a beautiful backdrop as over 60 attendees from across the state rolled in for a diverse line-up of topics on the agenda, including state updates on carbon monoxide and fireworks. On site that day were NFPA representatives from the divisions of Public Education, Codes & Standards, and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, along with presentations from Consumer Safety Product Commission, the American Red Cross and Sioux City Fire Department.   Special Agent in Charge for the Iowa Department of Public Safety and NFPA Public Education Network Representative for the State of Iowa commented  “Our first annual Iowa Fire Safety Summit was a success.  It was very beneficial to introduce Iowa’s fire service to NFPA and the great resources and information their organization can provide.  We’ve heard great feedback from the attendees and feel we have a strong foundation to build upon for the coming years.”

It came as no surprise to me to learn that Ron Farr had been recently bestowed with the high honor of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Volunteer Fire Council.  In my mind the only thing that prevented him from receiving it much sooner, would simply be the "lifetime" qualification.  


While I have only known Ron for the past 10 years, he had dedicated over 50 to the fire service, and undoubtedly made a huge impact on a great many lives.  As the former State Fire Marshal in Michigan, Ron was one of the first people to reach out and provide support for fire & life safety education initiatives I was spearheading, and he was quick to offer hands-on assistance delivering training and information alongside me to our school administrators and educators.  His guidance helped to develop vital safety programs offered in our local area, and his mentoring was influential in shaping the direction of my work.  And still today, Ron is a trusted resource and good friend.  I am proud to give a shout-out for a well deserved award to a rock-solid guy.  Congratulations Ron Farr!

When a fatal fire occurs, the whole community feels it.  From responding firefighters, grieving family members, to neighbors and local citizens.  There is often a heighten sense of anxiety while a cause is determined, and questions swirl as to “what could we have done to prevent this”. 

This scenario is all too familiar to me right now as my local community has recently experiences the 5th fatality in just a few short months.  The most recent happening just blocks from my home.  This time an electric space heater was the culprit, leaving a 94 year old, retired teacher, to be overcome by smoke before our City firefighters could arrive in just minutes. 

And while my “territory” encompasses a vast 16 states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic portions of the US, my heart and home are in this little town nestled in Northern Michigan.  As I read my morning paper with emerging details of the fatality, I couldn’t help but jump on my computer and pull up some resources to share following the fire. 

NFPA’s Community Took Kits are a fantastic resource for outreach initiatives and include helpful tools such as templates for letters to the editor, op eds, talking points, and press releases.  The information is up-to-date and targeted at fire causes including electrical, smoking, and heating.  They also cover topics such as carbon monoxide, smoke alarms, and home escape planning.  For this most recent fire, the letter to the editor on space heaters was packaged perfectly for me to add in my personal information and customize around the season.  In minutes my letter was off to the local newspaper, and information, education, and hope is in the hands of readers.  We often use the phrase that “fire is everyone’s fight”, and if we truly believe that, then we all can, and should, take advantage of the easy-to-access resources available through NFPA to help keep everyone safe.

Public Education Coordinator Stan Barnes, of the Farmington Hills Fire Department, took a recent news story to heart.  Stan reached out to his fellow firefighters across the state of Michigan sharing, with heavy heart, the news of a fatal accident that occurred at a fire station.  "We share in their grief and realize that as safe as we are, and are endeavoring to be, accidents and unfortunate events still sometimes happen, even to us."  And then, just as a fire prevention specialist does, Stan took action.  He sat down, revisited, and updated the station's Safety Policy for Station Tours, giving more thought to a comprehensive policy.  And perhaps Stan's action will spur on other fire department's to do the same.

Shriners Hospitals for Children has teamed up with the fire department in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin this year to promote holiday fire safety, particularly with Christmas Tree safety.  3,000 water resistant ornaments were generously provided by the Shriners and the Fond du Lac Fire Department was more than happy to jump in to distribute them.  And they knew just the right places to begin.  The ornaments were attached to trees for sale at local tree sale locations and the local news media was on-hand to help spread the word. Chief Peter O'Leary hopes to expand on this program in future years and reach attendees of the Holiday parade or the annual tree-lighting ceremony.  "We hope these ornaments will remind our residents of how to keep fire safe during he holiday season" he says.  

For the past 13 years, Community Risk Reduction Specialist - Tiffany Bradbury has had fun using art to motivate local school-age kids in Roanoke, VA to think creatively about fire safety.  13 schools participated this year and winners ranged from 2nd grade, all the way up to 8th grade.  According to Bradbury, the 2017 winning submissions were "stunning" and I happen to agree!


8th grader - Libby Jamison


2nd grader - Hollis Allen


8th grader - Sydnee Durham


8th grader - Jennifer Beane


In his first few months as the State Fire Marshal for the State of Michigan, Kevin Sehlmeyer prioritized a Community Risk Reduction approach as one of his first goals in order to tackle and largely reduce the fire death rate in his state.  Currently Michigan rates 5th in the Nation.  Reading materials were distributed in advance, including The NFPA Urban Fire and Life Safety Task Force paper “Community Risk Reduction:  Doing More With More”.  Experts, leaders, and representatives were assembled for a day-long retreat with the goal of exiting the room with a plan in hand.  The steps leading to the goal were sometimes tedious, but facilitation by members of the Grand Rapids Fire Department held the participant’s attention throughout the day’s tasks.  Among the goals of Michigan were; providing consistent and accurate education programs, ensuring residents of Michigan have sufficient and appropriate numbers of smoke alarms, establishing dedicated revenue streams, and a fire code that supports the efforts.  And while public education is just a part of the equation, Meredith Hawes – NFPA Regional Education Specialist, was on-hand to shine light on all of the resources available to support Michigan’s mission, such as the Educational Messages Desk Reference, and the Planning and Implementing a Successful Smoke Alarm Installation Program, to name just a few.


Whether you are comfortable opening your eyes underwater, or not, is a matter of preference, but be sure to always keep your eyes wide open above-water for safety!  Electrical Shock Drowning or ESD can occur when faulty wiring sends an electrical current into the water. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis, and results in drowning.  

Knowing what to look for and how to respond can save your life or those around you.  NFPA offers important tips for swimmers, boat owners, and pool owners, To learn more about the risks of ESD, check out NFPA's water safety page, or listen to a recent radio interview with Regional Education Specialist Meredith Hawes and Maryanne McGerty-Sieber from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and then feel safe to make a splash!

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day was recognized Saturday, May 6th, but it's not too late to make your home safer from the possibility of a wildfire now, and throughout the year.  Many people think that wildfires only occur in certain regions of the U.S., but any area can be susceptible with the combination of drought, warmer temperatures, high winds, and an excess of dried vegetation on a forest floor.  Perhaps even more surprising is that the wildfire season has actually become progressively worse over the past 50 years!


Take a few minutes to learn how to protect your home and family through some simple safety tips on Wildfire Safety, and learn more about the conditions that cause these fires, as I did while talking with NFPA's Michele Steinburg on a recent radio interview featuring wildfire safety.

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