Fire safety champions emerge in New Zealand schools

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Fire and Emergency New Zealand has been proactive in promoting fire safety within educational institutions by implementing a novel approach in the Hutt Valley and Wainuiomata regions.

This program, over the past 18 months, has aimed to provide high-quality, consistent fire safety education in local schools.

Fire safety education takes a new turn in New Zealand schools

A team of dedicated ‘Ambassadors’, including Dan Sharpe who originally conceptualised the idea, alongside Robert Wilson, Paris Winiata, Jamie Gray, Zoe Sinclair, Jacqui Warnes, Hami Love, and Paul Carline, has been established.

These individuals have committed themselves to deliver fire safety education to children, or tamariki, by working closely with schools to develop custom education plans.

The Ambassadors are responsible for approximately seven schools each, and to date, the initiative has seen 52 schools join, with a long-term goal of incorporating 58 schools.

The programme is praised for its effective approach in providing each school with a dedicated contact for fire safety education, enabling the cultivation of sustainable relationships and improved outcomes for students and their families.

Strengthening community resilience through fire safety

The initiative is not only beneficial for the students but also for the Ambassadors, as it enhances their leadership skills and builds their confidence in delivering presentations.

Moreover, the programme is structured to provide mentorship and support for the Ambassadors as they develop their roles.

Jamie Gray, from Hutt City Station, reflected on the importance of the Ambassadors’ role: “With Ambassadors going in without a truck, I think that helped the schools realise we are prioritising them.

“Because when you go out on the truck, they are aware that you may have to go out because you’re going to get calls.

“They (schools) didn’t feel prioritised. So this helped build that relationship’.

Additional services and community support

Beyond the classroom, the Ambassadors also guide schools towards further activities and programmes, like Ahikura Whānau-Centred Education, enhancing the overall educational experience related to fire safety.

IFSJ Comment

The shift to a dedicated ambassadorial approach for fire safety education in New Zealand schools demonstrates a strategic effort to foster stronger community relationships and build resilience.

Such initiatives contribute significantly to the reduction of fire hazards through education and awareness, especially among young students.

The direct involvement of fire safety professionals without the distractions of operational demands underscores a commitment to prioritising safety education.

The positive reception by schools and the expansion of the programme suggests a successful model that could influence fire safety education strategies globally.

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