Hosting community events, grilling up hot dogs, and offering free prizes will also get people out to listen to fire safety messages, Byrne said.
“Who wouldn’t come out for a free $25 gift card?” he said, noting there’s an added benefit to having interactions outside of an emergency situation.
To get funding for those kinds of programs, free smoke detectors, extinguishers and gift cards, there are grants that can be written and businesses to be solicited, both Byrne and Levesque said.
“You’ve got to be willing to fill out the paperwork and jump through the hoops to get it, but it’s worth it for the people we serve,” Levesque said. “We (firefighters) don’t like to do that sometimes, but hey, it’s important.”
Departments also ought not be shy about participating in business sponsorships, Levesque said. If a business gives money for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, the department ought to be willing to reciprocate with free publicity or even store appearances with apparatus, he said.
Departments can often get bogged down with paying homage to municipal officials rather than the taxpayers and residents, Levesque said, and that should change.
“Too often, we’re paying attention to those who stroke the checks,” Levesque said, “rather than those who we protect.”