Fire Corps Plays Key Role in Fire Prevention

Monday, 09 January 2006

By Sarah Lee

Fire Corps is about so much more than having citizens help with normal daily administrative tasks. Undoubtedly, your community is full of highly skilled, talented individuals with the ability to fulfill a wide range of roles within your department. With a little creativity, fire and EMS departments nationwide can use these talented individuals to expand the services the department offers to the local community, especially in areas of fire prevention, safety, and education.

Ranked first in deaths due to fire (NFPA 2001), some local communities in Arkansas are fighting to change this discouraging statistic through the use of local Fire Corps programs. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the state has had 19 fire related deaths in the past two months alone. "We are doing what we can to break that cycle by promoting prevention through education," states Dayna Hilton, Public Fire and Life Safety Educator Johnson County Rural Fire District #1 in Clarksville, Arkansas. Heading the departments' highly successful Fire Corps program, Hilton hopes to use Fire Corps to do just that, and is encouraging other communities in her state to do the same.

Fire officials agree that the best way to save lives and money is through education and by teaching fire safety and prevention. In an effort to do just this, Johnson County RFD #1 trained 60 students from the University of the Ozarks Phi Beta Lambda organization to teach fire safety to children and adults. These students, making up the departments' Fire Corps program, relay their fire safety and prevention messages to the community through fire safety presentations at local elementary schools, safety fairs, community events and other forums, including fire safety presentations to their peers at the University. To date, the Johnson County Fire Corps program has reached over 13,819 children and adults over three counties and is credited with helping the department effect an 80% decrease in fire related residential property losses between 2004 and 2005, as compared to previous years.

In January, the department-in cooperation with the Arkansas Fire Academy, Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training, and the Arkansas Fire Prevention Commission-offered the states first Public Fire and Life Safety Educator I course. Attracting firefighters and other educators from across Arkansas, the course teaches firefighters how to teach fire safety to the public. Attendees will be able to take this information back to their local departments and also share information about the progress made by the Johnson County RFD #1 Fire Corps to other areas of the state.

For more information on the Johnson County RFD #1 Fire Corps program, please contact Dayna Hilton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit their web site at www.rfd1.com.

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