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Public Education Committee – Southern Division


Cathey Mattingly
Cal Fire San Bernardino/Inyo/Mono Unit
3800 N. Sierra Way
San Bernardino, CA 92405
[email protected]

Penni Overstreet-Murphy
Redlands Fire Department (Retired)
(909) 556-6139
[email protected]

The So Cal Public Education Committee is comprised of representatives from various fire and EMS agencies as well as injury prevention organizations.  These days designated Public Educators are few and far between so the responsibility of coordinating or delivering public education programs usually comes as collateral duties under the “other duties as assigned” clause in some job descriptions.  Several of our members wear multiple hats including that of inspector, public information officer, firefighter or others.  Recognizing that schedules are busy and monthly meetings can be impractical for our members, the group meets five times a year for networking, resource sharing and training for meetings on the second Tuesday of February, April, June, September and November.  The meetings are rotated to various locations throughout Southern California, and often included a training program or facility tour that is beneficial to our members.

We provide a variety of program topics that appeal to a wide audience – not just public educators!  We’ve heard training on terrorism liaison officer programs, toured crime labs, discussed fire protection systems fraud, visited school programs in progress and more.  Hope you can join us for the next meeting!

In addition to our meeting information, we would also like to post a few articles here that are applicable to all fire and EMS agencies, which highlight the important of Public Education as a key component in departmental operations.

The So Cal Public Education Committee would like to draw attention to a couple of recently published articles that discuss the way modern day furnishings and construction have changed residential fires with a key component being “public education” campaigns to educate families and home owners on fire prevention and escape plans.  USFA’s ChangingSeverity of Home Fires Workshop Report highlights “the burning behavior of modern upholstered furniture with a timeline of fire development; this behavior has resulted in shorter times to room flashover…and the disproportionate share of fire deaths related to living area fires.”  In its 8-step action plan, it calls for the fire service to “increase the awareness of the general public regarding hazards associated with changing home contents and construction and the importance of working smoke alarms.”  The second article was published in the April 2013 issue of Fire Chief Magazine, titled “Game Changer.”  It not only addresses firefighter tactics for fires with modern furnishings and construction components, but also raises some questions about our fire and life safety messages.  For example, “if it is so smoky that an occupant has to crawl, should he or she evacuate, or isolate from the fire in a room with a window large enough for escape?  Does the escape plan make sure that the occupant shuts doors on the way out? Explain to them why this is important: limiting the air limits the fire.”