The National Fire Protection Association has announced that March 18 marks the 60th birthday of mascot Sparky the Fire Dog®, and to celebrate, they want to select a firefighter to be the voice behind this "spokesdog."
The contest runs Feb. 1-16. To enter, firefighters and other fire department employees are asked to submit videos of themselves "giving their best Sparky impersonation" at www.nfpa.org/SparkysBirthday. A panel of NFPA judges will select three finalists, and the winner will then be selected by voters on Sparky's new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SparkyTheFireDog between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28.
The winner will receive a Sparky costume, public education materials and a trip to the Boston, Mass. area to record a video for Fire Prevention Week.
Sparky was created in 1951. In the 1980's, celebrity Dick Van Dyke served as the voice to help expand the reach of Sparky's messages, according to the NFPA.
"Sparky has allowed us to connect with millions of children and their families by making it exciting to learn about fire prevention and safety," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of communications, in a prepared statement. "With this anniversary, we aim to reach more children, parents and educators with fun events and new educational programs throughout the year."
According to NFPA research, children under five are one and a half times more likely to die in a home fire than the general public. "Sparky plays an important role in communicating fire safety to kids and families," Carli said.
For additional information on the "Voice of Sparky" contest and other Sparky birthday celebrations throughout the year, visit www.nfpa.org/SparkysBirthday.