Fighting Fire with Education

Fire Prevent Slug2We who live in the canyons and foothills of California are constantly concerned about the threat of wildfires. After the devastating 2007 Santiago Fire, which destroyed ten homes, our local Fire Safe Council mobilized a multi-faceted fire prevention program through education and events. Our objective was to inform and motivate residence on how to make their property more fire safe. The promotional effort was initiated with the development of a 12-page brochure titled, Fire Prevention in the Canyons. It included information and local photos of indigenous fire prone and fire resistant vegetation, along with illustrations on proper clearance in our rural setting.

Our Fire Safe Council East Orange County Canyons has implemented several educational campaigns unique to our community. One problem was road clearance. Overgrown trees and shrubs on narrow private roads presented an access problem for first-responders. A Road Clearance Card was produced showing a local setting and fire truck and illustration of proper clearance, along with local resources. Chipper Days, encouraging residents to drop off cut brush, are promoted with fliers and email notices for each event.

In addition to Fire Prevention, does your community know what to do in the event a wildfire? Do they know how to prepare, evacuate, shelter in place and what to do in the aftermath? We do. As a companion piece we are providing this information information in a 12-page brochure titled:  In Case of Fire… Flood, Mud Slide, Earthquake and other Disasters in the Canyons.

While there is an abundance of pamphlets, brochures and fliers available from local and state fire agencies, most are generic, subjective and not relevant to local community issues or needs. We have found that professionally designed materials, developed for the demographics of each community, utilizing local photos and references received the greatest reception and resident response.

Developing a community-friendly fire prevention and response campaign is best accomplished by engaging the services of an experienced Marketing Consultant. The professional will work with your Fire Prevention Organization and provide outside objectivity, creativity, and promotional expertise to layout collateral from the recipients prospective. Coordination with PR and community programs will maximize homeowner involvement.

In addition to providing local property owners with fire prevention materials, many communities have developed Disaster Response Programs, modeled after the national CERT training. To effectively implement an training course specific to your community needs, training manuals and course promotion is needed.

The cost of retaining a marketing professional is always a concern, however there are many creative ways to fund fire prevention projects. For example: The 12-page brochure titled “Fire Prevention in the Canyons” was totally funded by a local Abby as a goodwill community effort. The Road Clearance card cost our Fire Safe Council nothing as advertisers paid it. Grants, corporate sponsors and fundraisers have covered other projects. A seasoned consultant will work with your group to objectively explore various funding options.

Every community should have fire prevention and wildfire collateral specifically for your area! Tom Smisek Consultants has worked with communities in Southern California to design and produce wildfire informative materials. Many of these projects were produced at no cost to the community, paid for by sponsors. Find out how to provide wildfire prevention and response information to protect your community. Have your local Fire Safe Council, HOA, Community Group, Chamber of Commerce or Fire Department contact Tom Smisek Consultants for more information.