By Tyler J. Moffitt
The Safety Advocate
I have been a firefighter and emergency responder here in Rainy River District for more than 24 years.
In that time, I have witnessed the fire service in Canada go from mainly providing fire suppression and vehicle extrication services, as well as fire inspections and investigations, to a fully-functional fire and rescue service.
As well, public fire and life safety education is now an important part of the fire and rescue service. It has expanded, as well as proven to be a life-saving resource.
When the fire and rescue service has the opportunity, visits to schools and other vulnerable groups are made. You see and hear the fire and rescue service every October during Fire Prevention Week.
However, public fire and life safety education can be challenging for Canada’s fire and rescue service as more than 90 percent of Canada’s 3,492 fire and rescue services are a volunteer service.
There are roughly 84,000 volunteer firefighters in Canada, and a lot of time is devoted towards achieving and maintaining fire and rescue training, as well as equipment, materials, facilities, and administration in accordance with recognized standards.
Newspapers, radio, and television have helped the fire and rescue service get its fire and life safety messages to the general public.
Other means of delivering safety messages also are being done across Canada by utilizing social media. However, unless you are personally looking for fire and life safety education, you may never come across these messages on the Internet.
The grassroots media, such as newspapers, radio, and television, can direct you to social media sites, but a lot of times it is the grassroots media that people are exposed to—and opportunity to deliver some public fire and life safety education is there for the whole world to see.
Community newspapers play a key role in targeting people, and continue to be an invaluable resource for local fire and rescue services to get their messages and news delivered to the public.
Past studies have revealed that the majority of Canadians get their news from their local community newspaper, as opposed to the larger daily ones.
I believe a well-known publisher put it best a few years ago when he stated the following: “Community newspapers are the grassroots media that have the vital things that are important to their readers—education, communities, teams, churches, and kids’ activities.” (Jim Cumming, Fort Frances Times).
Tyler J. Moffitt is a volunteer firefighter and emergency responder, as well as a continuous improvement advocate.