Does your local fire department promote fire prevention? If so, it may be eligible for a Life Safety Achievement Award, sponsored by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) Fire Research & Education Foundation and Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company to recognize America’s hometown heroes.
The award application is now available on Grinnell Mutual’s website, www.grinnellmutual.com.
“If you can save one life, two lives, or ten lives, you’ve really made a difference. That’s why we’re encouraging fire departments to conduct educational programs in their local communities that will make a difference and then recognizing them for their efforts,” said Alan Clark, assistant vice president of Grinnell Mutual’s Special Investigations Unit. “The Life Safety Achievement Award honors our hometown heroes – our fire departments – for initiating proactive programs that save lives.”
Past award recipient Marion Fire Department in Marion, Iowa, knows that public education programs reduce the city’s fire rate and therefore, save lives. That’s why its firefighters can be found crawling on the floor of area preschools each year in full fire gear so children aren’t afraid of a rescuer at a fire scene.
It’s also why the staff is on hand at the local farmer’s market to give passersby an opportunity to practice extinguishing a fire. These and other programs are likely the reason that the city of Marion has fewer fires than other cities with similar per capita.
“I tell our firefighters all the time that we save more lives and property through fire prevention programs than by combatting fires on the scene. With fire prevention education, we have a 100 percent survivability and property conservation rate. That’s what we’re hired to do – save lives and conserve property,” said Deb Krebill, assistant fire chief of Marion Fire Department.
Like many fire chiefs, she’s passionate about protecting her community. Firefighters across the United States save lives both quietly through the course of fire prevention programs and dramatically during rescues in burning buildings.
Life Safety Achievement recipients also save lives somewhere in between the two extremes, as West Burlington Fire Chief Mike Heim describes. “In our experience, almost everyone gets out of a burning building when the smoke alarm goes off, but it’s the adults that try to go back in for something they forgot – purses, wallets, etc.,” said Heim. “That’s when we find them disoriented in rooms so thick with smoke that you can’t see or breathe and we have to escort them out. Things can be replaced or retrieved after the fire is put out. Never go back into a burning building.”
Recognizing hometown heroes The Life Safety Achievement Award not only honors community heroes, but as past recipients will attest, the national recognition plays a vital role when departments seek funding to upgrade equipment, enhance training, and of course, sponsor fire prevention programs.
“The Life Safety Achievement Award absolutely helps our fire department acquire funding. By being recognized nationally, it shows that our fire prevention efforts are on the right path,” said Heim.
His unit, the West Burlington Fire Department of West Burlington, Iowa, was among 50 fire departments who received the award last year for their efforts in 2011.
Award criteria Fire departments across the United States are eligible for the Life Safety Achievement Award. To qualify, fire departments must record zero fire deaths in residential structures or a 10 percent reduction of fire deaths during 2012.