Home Safety Council Introduces Free Online Training Program for U.S. Fire Service Educators

The nonprofit Home Safety Council (HSC) has received a major 2008 Fire Prevention and Safety grant awarded through the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant will help fund the creation and implementation of the new Expert Network Academy, a free online training program designed to improve the knowledge base and skills of both new and experienced public educators.

“During these lean budget times, it’s often impossible for fire and life safety educators to travel outside their communities to attend training and professional development courses that help them improve their skills and achieve their departments’ public safety mission,” said Home Safety Council President Meri-K Appy. “This important grant makes it possible for HSC to provide a series of online training modules that meet the varied professional development needs of educators at no cost and without the burden of travel.”

The Academy will be accessed through HSC’s Expert Network, a free online resource that has served more than 6,000 fire and life safety educators since 2003. Members of the Expert Network have access to online interaction with their peers, a wide range of home injury prevention education material, and public education professional development opportunities, all at no charge. For departments that want hard-copy teaching materials, HSC offers members a discount on printing and shipping costs.

“The Expert Network Academy represents a step forward in fire and life safety training,” Appy added. “We are structuring convenient courses that will be available on demand. Educators will complete the programs on their own schedules. And if they are interrupted by an emergency call, it’s no problem! They simply restart the course when they can.”

The Expert Network Academy modules are being developed to complement state and national training and certification programs. An introductory track will provide learning in line with Fire and Life Safety Educator I skills. The experienced track will require the successful completion of the introductory track and will include more advanced curricula in line with Fire and Life Safety Educator II skills. The grant also enables HSC to develop a cadre of experts who can answer questions and provide technical assistance to local safety advocates by phone and via email.

HSC will introduce the modules next spring. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to help local fire departments do an even better job of reaching the public with critical messages to prevent injuries and deaths at home,” Appy said.

To learn more about the Academy, or become a member of the Expert Network, visit the Home Safety Council Expert Network Web site: www.homesafetycouncil.org/expertnetwork.

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