500 Fire Service Personnel Attend Fire Prevention Week Luncheon

illinois-fire-safety-allianceOn October 9, 2014, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance hosted the 73rd Annual Fire Prevention Week Luncheon to highlight and honor leaders in fire safety and burn prevention in Illinois.

More than 500 fire service personnel from around the state attended the event, which coincides with Fire Prevention Week. Various awards were presented to those who had gone above and beyond in fire safety and burn prevention education and causes over the last year.

The Corporate Responsibility Award, given to a corporation that has responsibly gone above and beyond the norm by providing fire safety or burn prevention education to the public was presented to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for its development and distribution of two DVDs that target school-aged children with fire safety and prevention messages.

WGN Morning Show "Around Town" host Ana Belaval discusses fire sprinklers with Bartlett FPD Fire Marshal Mike Figolah in 2013.

WGN Morning Show “Around Town” host Ana Belaval discusses fire sprinklers with Mike Figolah in 2013.

The Life Safety Award was presented to Assistant Chief Michael Figolah of the Bartlett Fire Protection District, previously with the Mount Prospect Fire Department. The award is given to organizations, departments, or individuals that have achieved a pattern of excellence in bringing life safety into the lives of others. Assistant Chief Figolah was given a standing ovation by all in attendance after receiving his award. Figolah’s work over the previous 10 years has made him one of the strongest voices in the state in the fight to keep the sale and use of commercial fireworks to consumers from happening. Several attempts of legalization from former governors and current legislators have been made, but Figolah has been able to work with the elected officials, informing them of the devastation of live and property that could result from the sale and use of fireworks in Illinois. He was also recognized for his expertise in home fire sprinkler education, including his use of the side-by-side fire and sprinkler concept, as a spokesperson for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s FEMA Grant projects and for development of national guidelines for conducting live fire sprinkler demonstrations.

Special Recognition awards were given to three Mount Prospect firefighters for their development of a smoke alarm installation program for the elderly in their community. Fire & Life Safety Educator Jim Miller, Fire Inspector Cory Pikora, and Fire Inspector Andy Skic were recognized for their pattern of excellence through the fire safety program that they developed and were able to share with other public educators. Their coordination allowed the to install 10-year-battery-life photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms in the homes of nearly 400 Mount Prospect residents age 65 and older. In total, more than 1,400 smoke alarms were installed in one of the village’s most at-risk demographic groups.

The final award, the Wayne Luecht Memorial Award, was bestowed upon Illinois State Representative Carol Sente for her established pattern of excellence through fire safety and burn prevention that has benefited the public outside of her immediate jurisdiction. Representative Sente has excelled in her duties while leading the fire service to recognize public education as an important tool. As a previous vollunteer and counselor at “Camp I Am Me,” the IFSA’s camp for young burn survivors, Sente saw first-hand the effects of fires and knew that advocacy for prevention and safety measures was an important role in Illinois. As soon as she became a State Representative in 2009, Representative Sente joined the Fire Caucus and became an advocate for fire safety legislation. Because of her commitment and devotion, she now serves as co-chair of the Fire Caucus. Upon receipt of the award, Representative Sente was given a standing ovation.

 

The luncheon concluded with a keynote presentation from a survivor of the Our Lady of the Angels school fire. John Raymond was just a fifth-grade student in 1958 when the Chicago school building became engulfed in flames, claiming the lives of 92 children and three nuns. Raymond provided attendees with a perspective of a survivor, community member, and as the son of the school custodian who was considered a suspect at the time of the event, only to be later honored with the Medal of Valor for actions taken on that day. The moving presentation gave insight into what happened on that cold day in December, an event which lead to sweeping changes in school fire safety regulations nationwide.

 

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