When COVID kept firefighters from going into schools during Fire Prevention Month, it didn’t stop the township’s firefighters from teaching the children in the community about fire safety with instructional videos.
“Only 20 percent of what we do on duty is to go to those emergency calls, but the other 80 percent is everything else, which includes that public education aspect,” said Fire Chief Patrick Dolgos.
“During the pandemic, we still needed to get the message out and we still had a job to do in the community and for the children and the township.”
Not only did the videos get sent to schools across the district, they were also submitted for the Telly Awards in the safety category. On June 3, the department received the news that its video had received a silver award at the contest.
“We put the video in for editing and for safety because we figured those two would give us the best chance of winning,” said April Ward, co-owner of Creative Content OnDemand, the production company that helped create the videos.
“We won in the safety category because the people who watched it were able to see the positive impact of the video.”
The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 to honor local, regional and cable television commercials. In later years, non-broadcast video and television programming were added to the list of categories. The awards showcase the best work created in television and across video – for all screens.
While the fire department was in unfamiliar territory creating its videos and entering them into competition, Ward and her husband James knew exactly how to make them a success.
“We sat down and went over all the particulars of what they normally have in the presentation,” said James. “But the main thing was that if it was going to be for children, we needed to make it so interesting that they stay engaged. It not only captured the interest of kids, but also adults …
“It was a great community connection.”
The department worked with the Wards on two videos, one for a younger audience in the preschool age range and one for an older school-age audience. Similar to its in-person, school assemblies, the department touched on a range of fire safety tips like the danger of smoke, how to properly install fire detectors, how to hold fire drills in the home and the importance of closing a bedroom door before going to sleep.
Firefighter and fire prevention coordinator Adam Seczech’s talking points were enunciated with cartoon firefighters and graphics and pictures to help hold the audience’s attention.
“The one thing we have always taken pride in is that we stick with the mentality that fire isn’t funny,” Seczech explained. “We don’t want to scare the kids, but we want them to know that it is dangerous.”
To this day, the township’s videos are still shared in local and outlying communities, and given that the department is one of the few to have such videos, it wants them shared far and wide to promote fire safety awareness. And while the department hopes to return to in-person assemblies in October, Dolgos said he would like to create new videos and go for the gold at the Telly Awards.
“It made me so excited the night we found out we won, that I really didn’t get much sleep,” Dolgos recalled. “We already had the gears spinning thinking about what our next project would be.”