NC Firefighters Team Up to Win Fire Safety Rap Contest

Members of Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, the Rocky Mount Fire Department and Greenville Fire/Rescue earned the top prize in UL's Close Before You Doze contest.

The Wilson Daily Times, N.C.
Firefighters from three North Carolina teamed up to create a fire safety video for the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute's Close Before You Doze contest.
Firefighters from three North Carolina teamed up to create a fire safety video for the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute's Close Before You Doze contest.
UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute

It only took 154 seconds for firefighters from Wilson, Rocky Mount and Greenville to drive home important safety tips, but in doing so, they won big for their communities, taking home the grand prize in a national video contest urging people to close their doors before going to sleep.

“It’s incredible to see these amazing interpretations of the Close Before You Doze message,” said Zoe Susice, director of research amplification at the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. “We were happy to see three fire departments so inspired that they came together to make their brilliant original song and educational music video to remind people to put the Close Before You Doze message into practice and share it with their community.”


Visit www.closeyourdoor.org/contest to see the video produced by Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, the Rocky Mount Fire Department and Greenville Fire/Rescue. The trio joined forces for a video that bested dozens of entries submitted by departments across the country. The public narrowed the entries to the top eight, which were then ranked by a panel from the research institute.

“We are humbled to receive this recognition from UL FSRI and the Close Before You Doze contest. Our hope is that the music video will help people better understand the importance of fire safety at home,” said Rebekah Thurston, the life safety educator and public information officer for Greenville Fire/Rescue. “We believe this honor further solidifies the commitment of each of our departments to fire safety and prevention, and we plan to continue that tradition in eastern North Carolina.”

As the top winner, the departments will split the $25,000 prize equally and use the funds for education programs.

“It will be used to fund outreach programs to audiences that are usually not targeted. When people think of fire prevention month, they think about ‘stop, drop and roll’ and the outreach for second graders, but hopefully this will help fund some programs for older adults, especially those living alone,” said Wilson’s life safety educator, Shauna Allen-Smith. “We also want to do some programs for our special needs community that is often overlooked and our deaf and hard-of-hearing community.”

The safety video was filmed at the end of August at Wilson’s adventure house with Allen-Smith’s counterpart in Rocky Mount, Blaise Harris, developing the lyrics to music by Melody Loops. Thurston edited the video for submission, which is the second time she’s done so for the trio of departments. “Get Low and Go” — youtu.be/OgzLx1ysafA — was uploaded in February and has been viewed more than 2,300 times.

“It feels good to not only be recognized in our community and department, but to know we received votes on a national level,” Allen-Smith said of the win. “We are just three small departments in eastern North Carolina, but it feels good to know our message is a national one.”

The institute will use the winning video online to promote the importance of closing doors before going to sleep. According to the National Fire Protection Association, people had 17 minutes to escape from a fire 40 years ago, but with the popularity of synthetic fabrics and lighter construction materials, officials have shortened that escape time to three minutes.

Research shows that a closed door reduces the life-threatening temperatures in a fire and provides a barrier against deadly smoke and carbon monoxide. Officials added that if residents feel the temperature of the door with the back of their hand and determine it’s too hot to escape, the closed door helps buy time for a rescue by emergency personnel.

“The life safety educator in Greenville has a journalism background while myself and Blaise have firefighting backgrounds, so we’ll bounce ideas off each other and send them to Rebecca to tweak,” Allen-Smith said. “It is a dynamic group. We’re all so different, but our mission is the same, so it makes it all work.”

Wilson Fire/Rescue Services Chief Albert Alston said he was proud of the accomplishment and the effect it will have on residents’ safety.

“I’m going to give all the recognition to Shauna because she took this idea and ran with it,” Alston said. “They shot it in our safety house and worked tirelessly on it. They got the votes and I’m proud to have her on our team.”

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©2019 The Wilson Daily Times (Wilson, N.C.)

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