This summer’s Emergency Awareness Program (EAP) has been deemed a success, but the duo who delivered it say there is room to make it even better.
The program began on May 16 and ran until August 19, co-ordinated and led by two university students, Stacie Reis and Kylee Brown.
They gave tours of the Kitimat fire department, safety presentations, home assessments, and advice on emergency preparedness.
The program was directed at people of all ages within the community with the intent of providing information on fire safety and prevention.
Under the heading of emergency preparedness, it covered wildfires, floods, and earthquakes.
Tours of the fire department focused on teaching children – mainly 3- to 6- year-olds – about fire safety while giving a guided tour of all the department’s highlights.
A total of 14 tours took place, 11 of which were public tours and the remaining three were private tours requested by community members for families or friends.
Each child who toured the department received a snack and a small goodie-bag which usually consisted of a colouring book, crayons, fire hat, and/or lollipop.
Presentations on fire safety and prevention were given to children throughout kindergarten to grade seven at each elementary school. These were more in-depth than the tours and also promoted the ‘home safety assessment’ aspect of the program.
In total, there were 25 presentations given to a grand total of 460 children.
At the end of each class presentation letters were handed out with home assessment forms on the back. The class from each school which returned the most forms won a pizza party in which we provided two slices of pizza, a juicebox, and a rice crispy treat.
Presentations were also given to different clubs and organizations within the community with varying messages.
For example, to the residents at Delta King Place we gave an ‘Older & Wiser’ presentation regarding ten safety tips for seniors, including but not limited to fire safety.
A presentation on outdoor campfire safety was given to a Riverlodge summer program. Another very successful presentation was given in our Cablecar ‘block party’ in which Tim and Marcy Rice opened their home to us and allowed us to invite the entire neighbourhood to a presentation on yard maintenance for fire prevention.
Being in a heavily wooded area, the Cablecar residents received a FireSmart Manual and instruction on how to prevent property loss in case of wildfires.
When it came to home assessments, this year the program focused on the Kildala area – with the exception of a few home safety assessments and presentations performed in surrounding areas.
The main goal of the home safety assessments was to test each smoke alarm in the home. If the smoke alarm(s) were not in working condition, a new smoke alarm or batteries were provided to correct the malfunctioning alarm.
New smoke alarms were also provided if the working smoke alarms were more than ten years old.
Carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers were also checked to ensure they were in working condition.
Fire safety and prevention information was presented during each assessment, emphasizing the importance of having a home escape plan. Brochures and pamphlets regarding fire safety, prevention, and emergency preparedness were also left for the home occupants.
Approximately 503 Kildala homes were canvassed including both trailer parks and 15 streets. Due to time constraints, approximately 10 streets were not canvassed.
A total of 54 homes have been assessed, 40 of which were in the Kildala neighbourhood. The program distributed 40 smoke alarms and 52 batteries.
This year the EAP collaborated with the two pizza establishments it town to put on the “It’s On Us” Safety Pizza promotion.
The event set a time frame in which pizzas ordered would be delivered in the fire truck. Each home that had pizza delivered by the fire department had their smoke alarms tested, and if it worked, they were given their pizza for free.
If not, new alarms and batteries were provided.
This event provided great public relations as well as promoted safety.
Mike Stekelenburg, volunteer for the Kitimat Emergency Program (KEP), was kind enough to give us training on tsunami, earthquake and flood plans for the town of Kitimat.
We were also given much support and information by Bob McLeod, KEP co-ordinator, on 72 hour kits. Homeowners showed great interest in these kits and how to go about creating one.
We were also given training on “Bear Aware” and what to do if encountering a bear during our canvassing.
Promotional efforts included placemats with colouring pages being distributed to local restaurants throughout town with our programs information as well as posters.
A table was set up and manned at Overwaitea, passing out pamphlets, draw prizes, and helium balloons, a flier was sent in the tax notices mailed out by the city and the Northern Sentinel ran a story regarding our program and its benefits.
Some other fun events were held in the community in which the EAP participated and provided activities including the Child Care Resource & Referral department’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ where a table was set up with a draw and giveaways as well as a truck brought down for fun tours.
And during Riverlodge’s ‘Summer Wind-Up’ event a special fire safety training house was brought down to practise hose shooting drills.
Many aspects of the program were a significant success. The tours were always an enjoyable part of the program. The kids always enjoyed seeing various aspects of the firehall and meeting real firefighters.
The most noted highlights for almost every child were seeing a firefighter slide down the pole, eating the snack, or playing the games that the EAP team hosted.
We learned a lot from the first few home assessments which we were able to apply to the following assessments. Firstly, some changes will be made to improve the form used during the assessments
A positive improvement would be to have the inspection form read “Is there an escape plan present in the home?” We would also like to provide more time to implementing a plan with families that do not have one in place, or even practising one with families if members are present.
The two “It’s On Us” Pizza Promos received very positive feed back and it is very much hoped to continue this event in future.