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NFPA Impact: Serve up fire safety – from a distance

July 14, 2020
By Laura King


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Pretend for a minute everything you’ve ever done for public education and Fire Prevention Week is no longer an option. You have a clean slate. You can spitball ideas and blue-sky with your team, as if you’re a bunch of executives around a board room table with endless resources.

That’s how NFPA is embracing Fire Prevention Week 2020. Instead of restrictions because of distancing, or changes of plans because school visits and fire department open houses may be off limits, think of Oct. 4-10 as the greatest pub-ed opportunity of your career.

The 2020 Fire Prevention Week theme, Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!, works to educate everyone about the simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves, and those around them, safe in the kitchen. Cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.

So, what can your department do to reach your target audiences – teens who may be distracted by TikTok videos, young adults who might be hungry but also drowsy at 2 a.m., busy families, and older adults – while also respecting restrictions?

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First, everything you need for a successful Fire Prevention Week is at fpw.org – endless resources! You’ll find social media cards, in English and French, for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You’ll find images for websites. You’ll find videos, dozens of games and activities, colouring sheets for kids and adults in English and French, Canadian versions of press releases and talking points, an event flyer in English and French to promote virtual activities, safety tip sheets (of course!), and checklists in French and English.

Most importantly, there’s a list of ideas, compiled by fire- and life-safety educators across North America, to help you and your department conduct an awesome Fire Prevention Week campaign – virtually and from a distance. Go to fpw.org, click on Toolkit, then Out-of-the-box ideas.

With new ideas come new practices and protocols. You may have to work a bit differently to build your FPW programs and activities. If you want to create TikTok or Instagram-worthy posts, you might want to brainstorm with some savvy firefighters sooner rather than later to produce some slick vids!

To try an “observe-from-the-curb” activity in local neighbourhoods, you may need to make staffing and truck requests ASAP. To build a social media campaign, you may need to meet with your corporate communications team now and walk through the free-to-download FPW resources (no need to reinvent wheels!). Use NFPA’s free resources as the basis for your posts; involve your department’s most creative and social-savvy minds and be consistent with your messages.

Busy families need groceries – partner with local stores and plaster the places with FPW posters. Older adults are all over Facebook. Trust me!

There are four key messages for FPW 2020, each with several supporting resources and materials. All the messages are drawn from NFPA’s educational messaging document that you can find at www.nfpa.org under public education / educational messaging.

  • Stay focused on the food
  • Keep cooking areas clear
  • Put a lid on it
  • Prevent scalds and burns

Supplementary messages encourage audiences to use a timer – Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa come in handy; to order in after a night out (we love that one!); and to be like Bill, the social-media stickman who is smart and safe in the kitchen!

What about FPW handouts – the swag bags full of stickers, magnets and activities kids love to receive? If you can’t hand them out at the usual locations, consider curb-side pick up at the firehall or a municipal building (be sure to consider traffic issues), or partner with local businesses that offer drive-through services. You can find FPW kits at www.fpwcanada.ca or www.firehallbookstore.com.

If you’re looking for some help implementing ideas or programs, join the Fire Life Safety Educators & Coordinators group on Facebook. The group was created after the NFPA Conference & Expo in San Antonio in 2018 and boasts more than 800 members from large and small departments all over North America. NFPA is also happy to help you develop Fire Prevention Week programs, and other pub-ed resources. Contact me and we’ll work out a plan!

Lastly, remember to use the hashtags #FirePreventionWeek and #PubEdWorks! See you on social!


Laura King is the NFPA’s public education representative for Canada. Contact her at canadacrr@NFPA.org and follow her on Twitter at @LauraKingNFPA and Instagram at nfpacanada.