Online Staff Report
The Rockford Fire Department Youth Fire Safety Program was selected out of 4,000 project proposals to compete for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant Program, with a $25,000 prize to support their efforts in the community. This is a Facebook-based contest where 200 projects compete for votes to be among the top 40 who will receive the funds to develop their program.
The Rockford Fire Department has identified youth fire-setting as a serious problem in our community. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires started by children playing accounted for an average of 56,300 fires with associated losses of 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries, and $286 million in direct property damage per year between 2005 and 2009. In 2013, at least 66 children in Rockford were found to be involved in fire incidents, 14 of whom were charged with starting the fire. To get those numbers as close to zero as possible, the Rockford Fire Department is taking a proactive approach to reducing juvenile fire involvement and injury.
The department has actively pursued efforts in public education and fire-setter interventions, making a difference in whatever way it can with the resources at its disposal. The fire department has been a presence at community and business events, handing out informational literature, teaching fire safety at schools, and putting on firefighter demonstrations to help keep the people of the city of Rockford safe and well-informed.
Recently, the Rockford Fire Department has also begun its Explorer program, which gives area youth from the age of 14 to 20 the opportunity to take an inside look at careers in the fire service.
With the money from this award, the Rockford Fire Department will expand the materials it uses already into firefighting simulation programs that have a realistic interactive experience for Explorers and fire escape safety training props to ensure children know how to avoid fire hazards and remain safe in fire conditions.
The link to vote for this project is https://www.state-assist.com/cause/1405177/youth-fire-safety, and the page for the project is titled “Youth Fire Safety.” The voting ends May 17. Each individual can choose to give up to 10 votes per day on their Facebook account.
Posted May 7, 2014