This article is featured in NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog:
Countryside Fire Protection District has supported fire and life safety education since its 1959 inception. Its mission has helped instilled this practice: “The District dedicates its activities to the preservation of human life and the conservation of property. To this end, the District invests its personnel in the education of its public and the maintenance of a safe environment.”
Furthering its mission, the district’s fire chief, Jeff Steingart, created a full-time public education coordinator position with the fire prevention bureau in 2007. Hired by the district in 2000 as a firefighter/paramedic, Tony Rodkey filled the position and eventually increased staffing in the bureau. Among its accomplishments, Countryside FPD has assisted many state-level activities, which includes teaching and hosting a public fire and life safety instructor course. At a time when departments were cutting prevention and inspection programs, Rodkey bolstered staffing. He believes emergency response should not be our first line of defense. Rather, emergency response is the only option after prevention and education fail. Reducing risk via education to the community, according to him, is paramount in saving lives and protecting property. Home fire sprinklers are an important part of this model.