Our mission is injury prevention through education, research, training, global educational programs, and organizational partnerships. We provide research-based training and educational materials to fire departments, schools, day care centers, and community agencies.
The Fireproof Children team began working together in 1982 in response to the need for communities to better understand children’s involvement with fire and how to teach safety to young children. Early research showed that the “children and fire” issue is a complex problem requiring a comprehensive understanding of child development. With the City of Rochester, New York, Fireproof Children received three grants from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control to conduct in-depth studies of juvenile firesetting. Working with the Rochester Fire Department's juvenile firesetter program, we were able to reduce recidivism in Rochester by 74% over five years.
Jerry Bills, one of the co-founders of Fireproof Children, is one of the most experienced juvenile fire investigators in the U.S. wiith more than 3,000 investigations and 36 years of fire service. He is a retired investigator of the Rochester Fire Department, where he co-founded the department's Fire Related Youth (FRY) unit.
In 1992 Fireproof Children Company began working with BIC Corporation and other child development specialists to create the award-winning play safe! be safe! ® classroom kit. Since1994, more than 80,000 play safe! be safe! kits have been distributed to classrooms, libraries, fire departments and hospitals around the world. BIC also selected Fireproof Children to present play safe! be safe! training workshops. The company have presented workshops in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and in all Canadian provinces.
Fireproof Children received a grant from the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to review home factors contributing to juvenile firesetting and make recommendations to NASFM and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program of the U.S. Department of Justice. Fireproof Children was later selected by NASFM to provide a series of juvenile firesetting prevention and intervention workshops based on these findings, to help communities across the country address juvenile firesetting through better understanding of the problem and better coordination of existing services. We have provided these Community Coalition Building for Juvenile Firesetting Intervention workshops in more than 30 states.
Fireproof Children developed the train-the-trainer program Prevention First: Fire Safety Education for Preschool Children and Families with support from an Assistance to Firefighters FEMA grant, to bring effective fire safety education to states with high levels of fire-related deaths and injuries to young children. Prevention First Preschool uses play safe! be safe! and family activities developed by Fireproof Children, in English and Spanish. Following each workshop, the trainers--Head Start and other preschool program directors, lead teachers and health educators--return to their sites to teach the program to their classroom teachers and distribute play safe!be safe! kits for each classroom. Teachers then implement the program in their classrooms. With the help of additional FEMA grants, we have brought this “train the trainer” program to more than fifteen states and reached hundreds of thousands of children and their families.
In 2004, realizing that our research and training principles for fire safety education were equally of value in addressing injury prevention in general, the company became to expand our training programs and extend our expertise to additional populations.
Fireproof Children designed, developed and evaluated the Mas Vale Prevenir program for the International Association of Hispanic Firefighters, to bring effective fire and falls safety education to Hispanic older adults. In 2006 we held train-the-trainer workshops in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico to bring Mas Vale Prevenir to program managers, program trainers, and direct care providers who will present the program to senior centers and other community organizations, ultimately reaching more than 100,000 older adults.
Careful evaluation is a hallmark of all our programs. We received funding from FEMA, Ultralife Batteries, Inc. and KidSmart, to conduct the National Smoke Alarm Evaluation. This study, designed and overseen by the company’s full-time Evaluation Specialist, evaluated the outcomes of the distribution of more than 20,000 smoke alarms and vocal smoke alarms in nine states and Puerto Rico through the Prevention First Preschool program. The alarms, equipped with 10-year batteries, were distributed primarily to families involved with Head Start, an agency serving low-income children. Firsthand reports from Head Start home visitors had indicated that as many as 60% of these families did not have smoke alarms. The National Smoke Alarm Evaluation followed up with visits to the homes of families who received smoke alarms through our program and found that, a full year later, 86% of homes visited still had smoke alarms correctly installed and operational.
NASFM engaged Fireproof Children to develop and deliver a new training program, the Juvenile Firesetting Intervention & Prevention Skills Building Workshops . These workshops addressed interviewing, communication skills and providing educational interventions, for fire service, mental health professionals and others working with children who set fires. The company also works with the non-profit Prevention 1st to develop safety programs for people with disabilities, and safety education workshops for community organizations serving vulnerable populations.
NASFM Fire Research & Education Foundation engaged Fireproof Children to develop and present a series of Youth Fire Prevention workshops funded by a FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. Train the trainer workshops were delivered in the 10 FEMA regions throughout 2010.
Our publications include the book Juvenile Firesetting: A Community Guide to Prevention and Intervention, and a children’s story book incorporating safety messages, Mikey Makes a Mess. Our articles have appeared in: Firehouse; Fire Chief; Children & Families, the journal of the National Head Start Association; Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children; Interaction, the journal of the Canadian Child Care Federation; and the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.