Marion Fire Department Earn National Recognition for Fire Prevention Efforts

Passionate about fire prevention, firefighters with the Marion Fire Department in Marion, Iowa, became a first-time Life Safety Achievement Award recipient last fall. But they weren’t new to improving fire safety statistics in their community. They were just new to applying for the award.

The department leaders are deeply-committed to proactively protecting residents. Watch Grinnell Mutual’s video spotlight of the Marion Fire Department during this summer’s Life Safety Achievement Award application submission period. Then help recognize your local fire departments by encouraging them to apply for this year’s award by August 9, 2013.

Prevention saves lives, protects property
“I tell our fire fighters all the time that we save more lives and property through fire prevention programs than we do by riding on the fire engine to a scene,” said Deb Krebill, Marion Fire Department assistant fire chief. “With fire prevention education, we have a 100 percent survivability and property conservation rate. That’s what we’re hired to do – save lives and conserve property.”

With 54 firefighters, the Marion fire department reaches 8,000 people of the 38,000 population living in the city of Marion annually through public education programs. The department’s proactive fire prevention events include side-by-side room demonstrations to promote the installation of home fire sprinkler systems, community talks at senior housing, hands-on fire extinguisher exhibits at the local Farmers Market, and more. The department also makes a point to work with local businesses, conducting annual inspections to check for safety hazards, and following up to ensure hazards are corrected.  

“We push to expand our fire prevention program because we strongly believe it lessens the risk for fire deaths in our city,” said Captain and Deputy Fire Marshal Wade Markley. “I think it’s very important to target children in the safety program because they are the future of tomorrow. If we get them on board practicing safety procedures, that’s going to carry through life.”

Their innovative Junior Fire Department program was one of the first of its kind in eastern Iowa and one of Krebill’s favorite programs.

“For more than 20 years, we’ve visited all of the third graders in the community to teach them about fire prevention. We ask them to check that their home’s smoke detectors work and to practice a fire escape plan at home. After they complete the assignment, they receive a badge and are sworn in as junior members of the fire department. I have even heard high school students say they remember us visiting their elementary classrooms,” said Krebill.

When they’re not fighting fires, Marion firefighters may also be found crawling around on the floor of kindergarten and preschool classrooms and daycares. They’re not just playing with the kids, although it may appear that way. They’re helping familiarize the youngsters with what a firefighter looks like in full fire gear if they’re trying to rescue a child from a burning building.

Their programs are working. Marion has fewer fires per capita than other cities of similar size, according to Krebill. But their success story is just one of thousands across the United States where local fire departments are taking a proactive stance to protecting their communities.

About the Life Safety Achievement Award
Since 1994, the Life Safety Achievement Award has recognized fire departments nationally for recording zero fire deaths in structures or reducing fire deaths by 10 percent during the year. Award recipients have also demonstrated an active and effective fire prevention program with a clear commitment to reducing the number of fires in their communities.

Grinnell Mutual and the NASFM Fire Research and Education Foundation ask residents to help their local fire departments earn national recognition by encouraging them to submit a Life Safety Achievement Award application. Applications are available on Grinnell Mutual’s website, grinnellmutual.com.  All applications must be submitted by August 9, 2013.

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