1st Impressions - Lasting Impressions

Should our first meeting with this age group go awry, a barrier will then be placed in the middle of the road for reaching out to these children in the future.

We end day four, and the program, with the children going outside to see the fire truck and climb through the cab. Each child gets a fire hat, and the teachers can take photos of their students with the fire truck, which then go home with the child or adorns the classroom walls.

This program has been a huge hit with local classrooms, as teachers remark over and over how much their student's have retained, and we see proof of that as we see these same students later in the year during our lunch program or another classroom visit. The program introduces firefighters in a fun, interactive and non-threatening way which builds a solid foundation for a relationship between the children and the fire department, as well as future education.

We have not limited our attempt to making a positive "1st Impression," to just children, and have conformed our program to the important adult audience, those who have the biggest control on fire prevention and fire safety. In our "Offensive" fire safety outreach, we have "targeted" adult groups with whom we feel it is important to make a big impact with that positive "1st Impression."

We conduct programs with local colleges and speak with college students who are studying to become school teachers, hotel managers, chefs, and building/construction professionals. While these are adults, they are taking the important initial steps into their professions, and thus the need to make a positive "1st Impression - Lasting Impression" on the need for fire safety in their respective fields.

First impressions are in fact lasting impressions, and with this audience we cannot afford to take that fact lightly. Showing fire trucks and handing out fire hats are good public relations, but accomplishes nothing for fire safety education. This program combines both events in a simple, quick and adaptive way with minimum manpower and funds, getting this biggest bang for your first impression.

While this program is "fire survival" orientated and should not be counted towards your "fire prevention" numbers, it is a program that will pay off for you and your department for many future years. These children will soon be in elementary school, middle school, high school and then tax paying citizens. This is a "grassroots" movement, and such movements make the biggest impact in the long term, and most importantly help us fulfill our ultimate goal of saving lives and property from the ravages of fire.

Related Handouts

Daniel Byrne is a Lieutenant, EMT-P, with the City of Beaufort, SC, Fire Department and currently serves in the capacity of Fire Marshal, Public Education Officer and Public Information Officer for the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal. Daniel has been involved with the emergency services for 20 years, with the last 10 in the fire service. He is National Fire Academy Alumni and currently a volunteer with the Beaufort County EMS. A veteran of the Desert Shield/Storm war with the U.S. Marine Corps, he is a Technical Sergeant, Airport Crash Crew, with the Georgia Air National Guard Fire Protection Division. In 2006 the City of Beaufort Fire Department was awarded the South Carolina "Richard S. Campbell Award" for excellence in public fire safety education. You can e-mail Daniel at dbyrne@beaufortfiredept.com.