Firefighters seeking funding help for safety program

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brookhaven firefighters are hoping the public will assist themin educating youth by opening their wallets for a program toprovide fire safety materials to area schools.

“We want to reach as many kids as we can throughout the county,not just in the city,” said Brookhaven Fire Chief Bob Watts. “Idon’t remember getting any materials for the county schools lastyear, so I’m making an effort this year to be sure they areincluded.”

A lot of the availability of materials is determined by theamount of money raised, he said.

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“The more money we raise, the more kids we reach,” Wattssaid.

Money raised here is used to purchase fire safety educationmaterials from the National Fire Safety Council, the chief said.Those materials include a workbook, pamphlets and stickers orpatches.

The department raised approximately $3,000 in 2006 for theFirepup program, said Linda Brown, who coordinates the program forthe NFSC. In 2004, the first year Brookhaven participated in theprogram, the department raised nearly $4,000, she said.

“I think they’ve had a pretty good program,” Brown said.

Funds received by the NFSC are used to print and distribute firesafety materials, she said. Although a variety of materials areprovided throughout the year, the biggest push is made during FireSafety Week in October.

“I know the answer to fire prevention is reaching the kids,”Watts said. “Even here in Brookhaven, you can see the effects thishas had. There are not nearly as many fires today as when I startedwith the department in the ’70s.”

Fundraising efforts this year are going well, Watts said, andthe department has raised slightly more than $3,000 sincemid-December.

“I believe that’s a better response than we’ve had the last fewyears,” he said. “We seem to be raising a bit more this year.”

However, he said, much more is needed to reach children atcounty schools and at higher grades.

The materials for each grade of student are different andemphasis is placed on the lower grades. More funding would allowthe department to extend the program to higher grades, he said.

Donations to the Firepup program may be made by contacting Wattsat (601) 833-7311 or by mail at Brookhaven Fire Department, 750Industrial Park Road, Brookhaven, MS 39601. Any tax-deductiblechecks should be made payable to the National Fire Safety Council,Inc.