Every year, fire departments in the United States respond to more than 350,000 home fires, resulting in at least 2,500 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries. In some instances, fire-related injuries might have been prevented if the victims had received fire safety tips, installed working smoke alarms or practiced an escape plan.
A fire department’s first line of protection is educating the community. Each year, during Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13, 2012), many local firefighters throughout West Virginia will be educating children in fire safety and prevention during classroom visits, as well as teaching older adults and providing lifesaving information to people with disabilities.
However, as municipal budgets tighten, the supply of the materials they use in these trainings is at risk. With the help of an online tool, fire departments are now able to invite others to purchase materials they need. Similar to a modern bridal registry, Sparky’s Wish List™ allows fire departments to register for the items they need (like DVDs, posters, stickers, etc.), and community members go online to make the purchases. The cost of individual items starts at just $12.50, and the materials will be sent directly to the fire department.
Currently, ten (10) fire departments from all across our state have created wish lists, including Charleston FD, Bradley-Prosperity VFD, Triune-Halleck VFD, Buffalo VFD, Winfield VFD, Hedgesville VFD, Nutter Fort FD, South Charleston FD, Maysville VFD and Ghent Area VFD.
For many years, West Virginia has continued to have one of the highest fire death rates in the nation. Sixty-four (64) West Virginians died in what were mostly preventable fires between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
Through additional fire safety education support, we can help our firefighters combat that figure. On behalf of Sparky’s Wish List and National Fire Protection Association, I urge your participation, and thank you for your support. For more information, including how to help, visit www.sparkyswishlist.org/give.