An ongoing public-education campaign is encouraging citizens to reduce the risks that firefighters face on the fireground by sharing the Alarm Pledge on social media. “Be a Hero, Save a Hero” calls for homeowners to ensure homes have up-to-date, working fire-safety equipment and that families practice a home fire-escape plan.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is leading the campaign, with support from Kidde Fire Safety. The fire-safety-product manufacturer will donate $1 to the NFFF and to Help the Good Guys — up to $10,000 to each organization — for each person who takes the pledge, likes it on Facebook or tweets about it on Twitter.
Having a safety plan protects not only citizens, but also the firefighters tasked with serving them, said NFFF Executive Director Ronald J. Siarnicki. He said if the public takes appropriate fire-prevention steps, such as installing working smoke alarms and residential sprinklers, fire occurrence will be reduced. With a proper escape plan, firefighters can concentrate on saving property not lives.
“It will make it better for firefighters who arrive on the scene when there is a fire to know that everyone is out of the house, that there are no rescues to be made but it is simply a matter of distinguishing the fire as opposed to exposing themselves to additional risks because somebody is inside,” he said.
The NFFF developed a partnership with Kiddie to support the campaign.
“The truth is the world is different today economically and no one identity can do it by themselves,” Siarnicki said. “Collaboration and public/private partnerships are beneficial because there are more resources to support the cause. So the foundation is trying to find people to partner with … to create a catalyst for change.”
More than 20,000 Facebook fans have liked or shared the pledge thus far. Siarnicki said the NFFF continues to raise awareness with a national radio public-service announcement, voiced by country musician Kix Brooks, an event at the CMA Fan Festival in June as well as interactions at industry fire shows and monthly Facebook campaigns.
“So many more people can be reached in such a shorter amount of time,” he said about social media campaigns.
Siarnicki said the fire service needs to make a commitment to public education, even if departments are short on resources. A regular communication to the citizens served by each fire department should be distributed through multimedia routes in order to educate the public and improve firefighter safety.
“Houses can be rebuilt, but you can’t replace people,” he said. “So, fire departments have to think out of the box when it comes to public education campaigns. What’s great about this is that you can go to our website, download all the material and share it on social media. It’s plug-and-play.”