Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week is a grass-roots effort led by an informal group of fire safety professionals from across the nation to help promote the awareness of CRR within the fire service. This week, we are featuring some of the fire and life safety professionals within the State of Maryland that are making CRR a priority in the communities they serve. Today we talked with Kay Trego, Singerly Fire Company's Fire Prevention Captain, to discuss her work in CRR.
1.How did your career get started in the fire service?
I am a 32 year member of the Singerly (Volunteer) Fire Company and their Ladies Auxiliary. I started out on the auxiliary side of the fire service and then joined company as an administrative member before switching to EMS and Fire within 6 months of joining. Early on in my career, I began as an active EMS member holding the office of Ambulance Director and Assistant Chief for EMS. I helped out with our Fire Prevention Week Activities, including school visits, for numerous years. I started to take on more responsibilities once my sister became the Fire Prevention Captain, a position I would later take over once she retired the role around seven years ago. I've also been very active with the Singerly Ladies Auxiliary for the last six years as Treasurer. I'm also with the LAMSFA as a Guard and PIER Committee Chair for the Cecil County Fireman’s Association. in addition to the Fire Prevention Committee Chair for the Harford County Fireman’s Association.
2. Where and when was your first introduction to CRR education?
My first introduction to CRR and Fire Prevention was as a probationary member for our former Fire Prevention Captain, Frank Lewis, who instilled the desire in me to teach fire prevention, or rather life safety skills, to our elementary school students in the community. After continuing to assist two more Fire Prevention Captains with the program, I was asked by the Chief to take over our Fire Prevention program.
3. What event or experience in your life encouraged you down the CRR career path?
When I would visit schools every year during fire prevention week and see the faces of children and hear some of the questions they would ask, I felt compelled to educate future generations like them to prevent harm. There was also a house fire over 20 years ago where two children were tragically lost and that gave me the drive to continue this work to teach life safety skills like never taking the battery out of your smoke alarm (except when changing it) and to "Get Out and Stay Out!" of a home fire.
4. What do you feel is one of the most important CRR messages and/or goals you would like to see progress in?
Smoke alarm programs, "Get Out and Stay Out" messaging, sprinklers, "CLOSE Before You DOZE" messaging, and staying up-to-date on the latest - and affordable - technologies that we have today, are some of the most important aspects of CRR. Also, to continue to expand and keep youth ambassadors involved in CRR efforts in order to merge the age groups together is vital because sometimes young people can reach certain ages groups better than an adult teacher.
5. What are some challenges those working in CRR face, particularly ones specific to the audience you are trying to reach?
Some challenges are getting certain age groups involved, and keeping them engaged, in order to use them as resources to help spread life safety information to their peers. Monetary resources also can be a challenge with fire prevention and life safety events as costs continue to increase each year. It is also a challenge to get membership to assist with these same CRR events within the volunteer fire company itself.
6. How have you developed your own unique messaging when it comes to community outreach?
Over the years, I have been able to get several of my members involved and actually take the lead in educating young people. I feel that getting kids involved through practicing and showing other kids life safety tips, not only engages them, but also keeps their attention spans involved a little longer than if they were just listening to an adult speak. I learned my teaching tips from my mentor “Fireman Frank” and I am thankful every day that he had the desire to teach children fire prevention and foresee that another person would have to take over for him as he moved on. The older generation of adults in retirement tend to participate in our CRR presentations if you advertise a gift bag or food and drink option. In my opinion, if it draws a crowd and gets them engaged then I am all for it. At the end of the day, repetition gets a message to sink in.
7. How do people working in CRR fields handle conflicting messages from multiple sources to the public?
CHANGE is GOOD! Technologies can be challenging when trying to upgrade standards and ever-changing practices across multiple jurisdictions, but it is necessary. Sometimes, if I'm asked questions at larger events that include multiple states, especially in our area where we can travel to several states in a short time period, I like to have resources on-hand to assist in answering any conflicting information. At the very least, I will take their information and get back to them once I get the proper resource to refer them to. If the information is conflicting to me, I usually refer back to my Fire Marshal’s office for details. Oftentimes, using common sense will be the correct answer for life safety situations.
8. What does the future of community outreach look like?
I think the future for CRR is positive as long as we have those passionate individuals who are willing to learn improved practices and teach them to EVERYONE, both willing and sometimes a little unwilling, to learn. We need to constantly work on promoting improved technologies in order to save more lives.
To learn more about the Singerly Volunteer Fire Company in Elkton, Maryland visit https://singerly.com/.