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Emerald Community House and CFA awarded top prize
A new fire safety policy developed by not-for-profit organisation Emerald Community House (ECH), with support from CFA’s Emerald Fire Brigade, received the highest accolade at the 2014 Fire Awareness Awards held last December.
The team took home the $10,000 RACV Insurance Award for Excellence as well as the Community Preparedness Award for their outstanding efforts to develop compulsory fire safety workshops for the parents of young children attending ECH’s licensed childcare programs.
CFA’s Phil Cuthbert, who is a volunteer at Olinda Fire Brigade, ran the majority of the three-hour workshops at Emerald Community House. He said the initiative targeted a younger audience that can be difficult to reach.
“We used the generic CFA program and tailored it to young families in the Emerald community, addressing local risks,” said Phil.
“The good thing is we are getting through to people. The workshops gave families a practical list of what to do in the face of an emergency.”
Phil said the award was nice recognition for all the heavy lifting done by ECH and the support provided by Emerald Fire Brigade.
ECH Coordinator Mary Farrow said the group hoped others would be inspired to start their own similar programs that would have the same positive impact.
“We have a role to play here in the community and we are so happy to have won our category,” said Mary.
“This project is about inspiring other childcare programs and community groups to do the same.”
As part of the initiative, parents with children enrolled at Emerald Childcare Centre are required to attend a mandatory bushfire planning workshop.
“The bushfire planning workshops are a condition of each child’s enrolment,” said Mary.
“What we are doing is adapting fire safety awareness to parents. Parents in Emerald want to participate, and they want to come out of each workshop with a bushfire plan.
“We ask parents, if we had a fire emergency and we asked you to come and pick up your children, would you be able to?”
About 100 families participated in the workshops last year, with the policy now in place as a part of ECH’s Strategic Plan.
The Fire Awareness Awards is an annual event which recognises the achievements of a wide range of projects that raise awareness around fire safety and help develop prevention measures to reduce the effect of fires across Victoria.