Ill. FD Sees Positive Impact With Pizza Partnership

Following their Fire Prevention Week partnership with Domino’s, the Washington Volunteer Fire Department has seen a jump in the number of local households that have working smoke detectors, and they attribute the increase to public education from this program.

The success comes after just one year.

“In 2011 I read on about Domino's partnering with fire departments,” said Firefighter Brian Barron.

So, he contacted his local Domino’s owner, and “he was all for it” as well, Barron said. They set up the partnership along with Chief Mike Vaughn.

The way the program works, is that for one night, the fire department accompanies pizza delivery personnel to a certain number of homes. Firefighters then check for a working smoke detector at each home, and if it has one – that family gets its pizza for free. If needed, the firefighters replace alarm batteries. 

This is now the department’s second year participating, and they’re actually doing it every six months. “We tie it in with the change your clock, change your batteries campaign,” Barron said, referring to the campaign to change residential smoke detector batteries during every adjustment for Daylight Savings Time.

When the department first went out on pizza deliveries during fire prevention week 2011, they found that out of the eight homes they visited, only three had working smoke detectors. When they went out in spring 2012, they found that 10 of the 11 homes they visited had working smoke detectors. Barron said they firmly attribute that to public education, not just luck of the draw.

He said the program reaches far beyond the homes that departments actually visit, as neighborhood buzz and media attention spread the fire safety message to the entire community.

“The local papers have taken a liking to it and we’ve gotten a lot of publicity,” Barron said.

In addition, “When we’re pulling up to each house, we turn the (truck) lights on, and also get the neighbors. You get 10-12 coming out to see what’s happening, and you spread the word more than the numbers show.”

The department plans to continue in the coming years, and is now partnering with a neighboring city, Northern Tazwell fire Protection District, because the Domino’s is between their two districts.

Barron said the department actually sent a letter to Domino’s to tell them how thankful they are for the program. “It’s well received and we hope it never goes away,” he said. “This is a great way to get into homes within the community and do what we do best.”

This is the fifth year of the Domino’s program, said Domino’s spokeswoman Jen Hug.

“This started as a grass-roots program with one of our franchise owners,” she said. “What happened was that corporate thought it was a great idea and decided to grow it.” So, Domino’s officially partnered with the NFPA, and the program has since gone national.

Hug says more than 60 Domino’s stores across the country are already reporting participation this year, and the number is likely even higher since franchise owners can do it on their own.

“This is something that everybody can benefit from,” Hug said. “This program is so cool because it gets people’s attention.”