Most people think that working in the fire service is one of the hardest jobs out there. It involves long hours and hard physical labor, and we often find ourselves in dangerous and even life-threatening situations. However, in my opinion, giving a good speech is an even more daunting task than most of the challenges I’ve encountered as a fire service professional! Therefore, I hope you’ll bear with me as I do my best with this speech.
Even though giving speeches is a challenge for me, I consider myself lucky to stand before you today to honor the work of [NAME], who has just been promoted to the position of Fire Inspector, and [NAME], who has just been promoted to the position of Fire Marshal. These two individuals truly embody the spirit of the fire service, and they have contributed a great deal to this department. I know that as they work as Fire Marshal and Fire Inspector in the coming years, they both continue to be excellent assets to our department.
More than anything, these two individuals understand the essential role that fire prevention plays in our community. Many people overlook the fact that fire prevention is so important in their daily lives—it protects them from minor burns, keeps their property safe, ensures that they can safely leave their pets at home when they go to work, and—of course—saves their lives. Looking back through history, it’s not hard to see how far our country has come in terms of fire prevention. When President Woodrow Wilson announced the first Fire Prevention Day back in the 1920’s, fire was taking the lives of about 15,000 Americans every year. In 2011, the number of lives lost to fire had dropped to about 2,500 per year, with an annual injury rate of about 13,900 per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Obviously, this is a significant improvement, but our goal as fire service professionals is to bring those numbers down to zero. I believe that with [NAME] working as Fire Investigator and [NAME] working as Fire Marshal, we will be able to advance that goal and minimize the threat that fire poses to live and health in our community today.
Over the years, significant efforts have been taken to promote fire prevention in our community, which is one of the reasons why we have seen such significant improvements over the last century. For me, one of the most meaningful fire prevention programs is the Junior Fire Chief program, which trains kids in basic fire safety. Programs like this started cropping up in the mid-20th century, and over the decades, they have greatly improved community safety. After training in the Junior Fire Chief program, a child becomes an ambassador for fire safety. Not only do they finish the program with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from fire danger, but they can also spread the word to their parents, grandparents, friends, and other community members. Plus, the Junior Fire Chief program has gotten countless kids interested in jobs in the fire service in the future. As a fire service professional, I have met so many firefighters who say that programs like the Junior Fire Chief program inspired them to pursue a career in the fire service at an early age. In tough jobs in the fire services, we need passionate individuals who are committed to community protection, and the Junior Fire Chief program starts cultivating future professionals early in life.
Another program that has really made a difference for community protection throughout the United States is Stop, Drop, and Roll. The three steps are so simple, and yet they save lives every day—getting us ever-closer to our goal of bringing the number of fire-related fatalities down to zero around the country. Stop, Drop, and Roll has been around for about forty years, when film star Dick Van Dyke first made the practice popular in a commercial that aired in the late 1970’s. These days, most people don’t remember the original commercial, but they do remember those three words, which are still commonly taught in schools and fire prevention programs. Every kid in America grows up learning how to stop, drop, and roll, and it has truly made a difference in the lives of millions.
Given the success of efforts like the Junior Fire Chief program and Stop, Drop, and Roll, it’s hard to understate the importance of community outreach and public education when it comes to fire prevention. As fire professionals, it is our duty to respond to fires in times of crisis, but our responsibilities go far beyond that. We are tasked with ensuring that people know what they need to do prevent fire from breaking out in the first place, as well as how to respond immediately when it does. As the population of the United States grows increasingly diverse and new technologies change the way people consume information, this presents a unique challenge, but I know that today’s fire professionals are up to the task. With dedicated professionals like [NAME] and [NAME] in leadership positions in our department, I have no doubt that fire safety in our community will only improve in the coming years. I hope that you will join me in congratulating them on their achievements and wishing them the best as they take on their new positions as Fire Inspector and Fire Marshal in the [CITY] Fire Department. Thank you.