- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for Annual Fire & Life Safety Education Conference Hits Cape Cod Next Week
Jake Wark, Public Information Officer
STOW — The Department of Fire Services will hold its annual Fire & Life Safety Education Conference in Hyannis from Sept. 22-23, bringing fire educators, prevention officers, teachers, care specialists, and others together to share knowledge, build partnerships, and recognize the 2021 Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year.
In addition to hosting 30 workshops led by professionals from the fire service, public education, public health, community risk reduction, and related fields this year, this year’s conference will provide an opportunity to hear from three featured guests.
Cynthia Ouellette, who served for seven years as the coordinator for the Department of Fire Services’ Fire Data and Public Education Unit, will address the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on public fire and life safety education in general and the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program in particular. Missing a year of in-person education has had an impact – or has it? As we enter a new school year, she will discuss S.A.F.E., where we started, where we are today, and the work we still have to do going forward.
This year’s keynote speaker is Patricia Mieszala, RN, who will present “Youth Firesetting and Intervention Programs – Keeping Your Ball in Flight” at 1:00 pm on Sept. 22. Pat is the president and founder of Burn Concerns National Consulting and Educational Services. Since 1981, she has provided educational services, training, and project reviews to burn care facilities, foundations, and fire service organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. She provides training to multidisciplinary audiences, helping communities to better understand youth firesetting and arson. She helps communities develop intervention programs to provide fire safety education and referrals for counseling as needed. Patricia will describe prevention of, and intervention in, youth firesetting behavior.
Lt. Robert Feeney of the Onset Fire Department will present “Life Safety Lessons Learned from the 4th Deadliest Nightclub Fire in History” at 9:00 am on Sept. 23. Rob is a survivor of the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. He will describe his experience in the building, and as a burn survivor relearning how to live. Life is full of defining moments, and because of his experience in the Station Nightclub fire, he became a fire sprinkler advocate. He testifies and speaks across the country on the importance of fire sprinklers. He will share his story and how he has created the best life for himself and his family.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey will present the 2021 Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year Award to one of this year’s four nominees at 1:00 pm on Sept. 22. This year’s distinguished nominees are:
- Firefighter Douglas Bocash, Weymouth Fire Department: Firefighter Bocash has made a large impact on the Weymouth community through his CPR certification program. As an instructor, he creates scenarios and simulates environments that help his students see the relevancy of his program to their daily lives and has helped create large numbers of CPR-certified residents. He also utilizes accessible technology such as mobile phone apps and has helped to build bridges in the Weymouth community connecting the fire department with local schools and the South Shore Hospital.
- Captain James Brooks, Danvers Fire Department: Captain Brooks worked with the town’s IT department and the local school system to deliver the Student Awareness of Fire Education program to students and overcome the challenges of remote education during the pandemic. Captain Brooks’ efforts helped inspire a “Young Hero” when a local youth saved a housemate from a fire using skills he learned from the S.A.F.E program. In addition to improving the quality and capability of the Fire Prevention Office, he has been working to train a new fire prevention officer in advance of his retirement in January 2022.
- Deputy Chief Sean Mitchell, Nantucket Fire Department: Deputy Chief Mitchell has been an advocate for firefighters’ health and an educator for his local department on the safe storage, cleaning, and handling of turnout gear to reduce the risk of occupational cancer from PFAS. On a national level, Deputy Chief Miller put forth a resolution at the International Association of Fire Fighters’ 55th Convention to reduce the circulation of turnout gear containing PFAS and promote the health and safety of firefighters from personal protective equipment that presents its own hazards.
- Firefighter Brendan Palumbo, Shrewsbury Fire Department: Confronting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Firefighter Palumbo utilized social media to continue bringing fire safety to Shrewsbury youth despite the challenges of remote learning. Firefighter Palumbo created and produced a Home Escape video with his own family and then shared the video through social media platforms. His video was picked up by local media and helped further promote fire safety in the Worcester County area, multiplying his own efforts.
Media are welcome to attend the conference at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, located at 1225 Iyannough Road in Hyannis. The days’ events will run from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and a summary of the workshops and speakers is online at the Department of Fire Services’ website.