The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) recently hosted the 73rd Annual Fire Prevention Week Luncheon to highlight and honor leaders in fire safety and burn prevention in the state of Illinois.
More than 500 fire service personnel from around the state were in attendance on October 9th to participate in the annual luncheon 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 for their development and distribution of two DVDs; Wild About Safety: Safety Smart About Fire! and Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy. The two programs which target children between the ages of 4-8 and 8-14 respectively, are available in numerous languages and provide interactive activities highlighting fire safety, prevention, and education.
The Life Safety Award was presented to Assistant Chief Michael Figolah of the Bartlett Fire Protection District, previously Chief of the Mount Prospect Fire Department. This award is given to an organization, department, or individual that has 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 governor’s and current legislatures have been made, but Assistant Chief Figolah has been able to work with the elected officials, informing them of the devastation of lives and property that could result from the legalization of sale and use of fireworks in Illinois. He was also recognized for his expertise in fire sprinkler side-by-sides and as spokesperson for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition FEMA Grant Project 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 this fire safety program that they developed and were able to share with other public educators. Their coordination allowed them to install 10-year battery life photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms in the homes of nearly 400 Mount Prospect residents age 65 and older. The three firefighters were instrumental in making the program a reality and a success, dedicating a significant amount of days, nights, and weekends to complete the installations while also completing home inspections at each residence. In total, more than 1,400 smoke alarms were installed in one of Mount Prospect’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 volunteer and counselor at Camp “I Am Me,” the IFSA’s camp for young burn survivors, Sente saw the first-hand 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 this award, Representative Sente was given a standing ovation for her dedication to the fire service and passion for life safety.
The luncheon concluded with a keynote presentation from a survivor of the Our Lady of the Angels School fire. John Raymond was just a 5th grade student in 1958 when the Chicago school building became engulfed in flames, claiming the lives of 92 children and three nuns. Mr. 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.
PICTURED: Fox River Grove Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Chief/Barrington-Countryside Fire Protection Assistant Chief Jim Kreher, Mount Prospect Fire Department Chief John Malcolm, Underwriters Laboratories Vice President and Chief Public Safety Officer Barbara Guthrie, and Underwriters Laboratories Director of Firefighter Safety Research Institute Stephen Kerber.