For the past two years the Port Moody Fire Rescue has been visiting local schools outdoors to deliver FireSmart education. The COVID pandemic impacted their existing education programming for local schools, as schools were closed to visitors and their department policy prevented them from hosting events at the fire hall. That’s where the idea to meet with classes outdoors at the school came from. Once they reached out to the schools to set up the information sessions they were eagerly welcomed.
“Teachers loved the idea as it was something new for their curriculum. The kids really engaged with the material as climate change and forest protection is very popular,” says Jeff Scallion, Lieutenant at Port Moody Fire Rescue. “During COVID all indoor guests/visitors were forbidden. Meeting outdoors, wearing masks, and keeping 6 feet of distance went a long way to make people safe.”
Being able to meet children, parents and teachers outdoors in fresh air to deliver FireSmart material helped local teachers fill their curriculum with something different, educational and fun and it introduced a new generation to FireSmart, wildfires, and how to care for the forests.
At the end of each session the kids went home with the FireSmart Guide to Landscaping, the FireSmart Begins at Home manual, a Port Moody Fire Rescue Fire Helmet, and a FireSmart bookmark. The department received many requests for home assessments from parents of kids who attended these sessions.
Port Moody Fire Rescue worked collaboratively with their communications department to design a Port Moody branded flyer to advertise their free FireSmart Home Assessments and the grant that residents can receive for completing the recommendations on their assessment.
Because of the weather in BC, they have targeted their visits to early spring to late summer to make presenting outside feasible. According to Jeff Scallion the biggest challenge with the program other than the weather was that “once one teacher met with us the entire school got jealous and wanted to visit with us too!”