I work for a small volunteer fire agency in Northeastern Washington State. We have many of the same issues facing us has most of you in the vollie service. We have done a couple of different things here to help in our efforts.
First off, we do an "address sign" program here. We sell by donation, high visibilty address signs. this is the link if you would like to check it out http://www.spofr.org/address-signs.htm. The materials cost just under $10 a sign.
I went to the local Public Utility District's Revolving Fund Board, actually allow me to digress with a quick side note here. If you have a local PUD, they are required by federal law to set a certain amount of funds aside for "community projects" that help in infrastructure and the sort. This program helps in the county infrastructure because public agencies can identify were homes are located. Anywho, I went to the Revolving Fund Board and request seed money for this program so that we could offer it on a "donation" basis. They awarded our agency $5,000 for it.
Know we offer the signs to members of our county for a donation. Some donations are just a couple of dollars but the majority of them are $30-$50. That is a big profit for a ten dollar sign. This has been a very good program for us. I have sent signs all across the country.
Another idea is to help boost your fire prevention message, look into Americorp/VISTA. Typically this program is to develop programs and infrastructure in impoverished areas. We, like many of you fall into that catagory. Our VISTA plan was to install smoke alarms in 300 residents of Pend Oreille County. The VISTA identified target families and got the program running. It has been a great success and we will continue to use a VISTA volunteer for targeted projects. The big selling point behind our application for a VISTA member was that this is a fire/life safety issue. If the impoverished lose everything to a house fire it only compounds their problems. With this program we not only install smoke alarms but we also can help these families in identifing issues and assist them in finding ways to mitigate them.
Both of these are relativly easy things to start and can quickly become self-sustaining programs. Anyone that knows me, knows that my feelings on fire education are that it is our future. We can no longer just sit at the fire house drinking coffee and wait for the next tone. We need to be out there in our community eyes on all of the days, not just the bad ones when they need us. If we are not proactive this way then funding will continue to be cut and the public won't even know until it's to late. Go out there and engage with your community. This should be an almost daily event. Let them see you when they are having good days.
Be safe and learn something new today.

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