Some highlights from a typical in-school fire safety presentation with MySafe:LA and the Los Angeles Fire Department
MySafe:LA’s founding members were intimately familiar with the Los Angeles Fire Department. The core group behind the creation of MySafe:LA includes a retired LAFD Assistant Chief, active duty Captains and Firefighter/Paramedics, and the FEMA Search and Rescue Dog coordinator for CA Task Force 1. Those who are not sworn, have worked alongside the LAFD for more than a decade and have advanced training in incident command, emergency, pre-hospital medicine and advanced CERT training.
Today, our board is more diverse, but we still have some of the brightest minds supporting us after their LAFD career came to a conclusion. All told, we operate in collaboration with – filling in the gaps – and supporting sworn members every day of every week, every month, and every year.
We take ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY from city or the Los Angeles Fire Department’s budget. None. Zip. Nada. We are NOT PAID by the Los Angeles Fire Department. We are solely funded through public and private grants, private foundations and individual donations.
Because of our extensive involvement with the LAFD, we understand that these are challenging times for the department, and the City as a whole. When economic resources dwindle, any type of public education like fire prevention is often moved lower on the priority list. But Los Angeles has so many underserved populations, and so many at-risk kids, we decided there was a need. So back in 2008 we created a California Public Charity, got a Memorandum of Understanding with the LAFD, and set up shop. Most of our founding members were either current or retired LAFD members, or had worked with the department for years. The territory wasn’t new to us, but we still had a lot to learn.
We used tried and true fire safety messages from organizations like the National Fire Protection Administration, Safe Kids and the Home Safety Council. We consulted with national fire education experts. We joined Vision 20/20 and other national organizations who specialize in fire and life safety education. We took all that knowledge and expertise, and we localized and modernized it. What does that mean? It means we made those safety messages mean something to the people of Los Angeles by specifying the risks Southern Californians face, like wildfires, earthquakes, house fires and personal injuries. And we modernized the way those messages got delivered to our most at-risk populations. We use digital media extensively, making sure our messages are delivered first visually – via film and the web, and second – to at-risk neighborhoods.
Since our pilot program in 2008, we have presented our formal fire and life safety program to more than 440,000 kids, with the Los Angeles Fire Department by our side! We create the program and all the educational materials. We do all the scheduling and logistics. We are the safety educators. The professional first responders of the LAFD are the safety experts. It’s a good match. A truly successful public/private partnership.
Our work feeds our souls. It is both fulfilling and inspiring. Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for helping us make nearly half a million kids smarter and safer.