Another option for providing some free information to everyone in your community could be by teaming up with any of your local utilities. Do they send out a mailing to most everyone in your area? This could be in the form of a utility bill. Would it be possible for you to send out a flyer on fire safety with each of those bills? Maybe you have an organization that sends out free information or coupons to everyone in your area. Could you add something in with that also?
Some departments are having great success in their communities by providing a citizens fire academy. Most of the general public doesn't realize what we do. A citizens fire academy brings in actual city/town residents and lets them go through some basic fire training to let them know what we go through. Could you use that same opportunity to talk to those citizens about fire safety?
Does your department provide community cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) lessons? If so could you use that opportunity to throw in some fire safety messages?
Your local libraries are another source of some great programs. Some run reading programs. This is where they are looking for local people to read their favorite book to small children. Could you read a book on fire safety?
Do you have a fire department web page? If so do you have a section on fire safety information? Many departments have great web sites that have all kinds of information on every aspect of the fire service. The Internet is also a great source of all kinds of information. If you have Internet access either at home or at the station, then you have a valuable resource at your fingertips. Use this resource to search for other ideas that you could implement in your fire safety program.
Another important way to get your message across to other groups is to build coalitions with those groups. Do your schools have councils or health advisory councils, or groups like project alliance where schools and cops talk about troubled youths. Perhaps you could work with the inhalant abuse task force, DARE officers, tobacco control groups, poison prevention groups, local SAFE Kids Coalitions (injury prevention) to just name a few. Sometimes you might have to give up time for things like a bicycle rodeo in order to get help for fire safety issues. By giving a little of your time for other people's project's helps build support for your projects.
One last aspect I would like to touch on in making your program year round would be you as the educator. Are you doing everything you can to help yourself? Are you continuing with your education? Are you attending conferences, seminars and training sessions put on locally or nationally? Your state fire academy can help. The National Fire Academy has some great programs as well. Also, are you networking with other educators either locally or nationally? There are web rings out there on fire education. There are also forums you can get involved with like Firehouse Forums Community section.
Do you subscribe to any national publications like Firehouse Magazine? They are continually running articles on fire safety education. Does your state offer certification? If so are you attempting to get certified? Everything you do to increase your professionalism will only help you and enhance your credibility with your school system and within your community.
This article just scratches the surface of things you could do to make your fire safety education program year round. Use your imagination, be creative, beg, borrow, and steal ideas from other fire departments or other sources. Do what ever it takes, but please make sure that fire safety education is not only just for Fire Prevention Week.
If you have any further ideas about what could be done or would like to bounce some ideas off of me you can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org