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Million Dollar Grant Awarded to the People's Burn Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The People's Burn Foundation is pleased to announce they are the recipient of a one-million dollar "Assistance to Firefighters - Fire Prevention and Safety Program" grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Funding from the grant will be used to establish campus fire safety programs nationwide and continue their efforts in firefighter safety and training programs. A team of firefighters from across the country as well as the Massachusetts-based publication "Campus Firewatch" will work with the foundation in coordinating the development of the campus fire safety component and third installment of the firefighter training program To Hell and Back.
This is the third and largest grant of its kind given to the foundation and was awarded to assist in tackling two critical issues facing the nation's fire services and college age students. These two projects, though separate in nature, are desperately needed and this grant recognizes the need. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 106 fire fighters died in the line of duty in 2006 with 77 already on record for this year. As in most years, younger firefighters were more likely than older firefighters to die from traumatic injuries. The grant will allow the People's Burn Foundation and its development teams the opportunity to create highly effective and innovative training tools to directly tackle the issue of situational awareness for our nation's firefighters.
College campuses unfortunately reflect the latest overwhelming trends in fire-related deaths and injuries as well revealing the need for immediate action nationwide. Since January 2000, there have been 114 campus-related fire deaths across the country with over 80-percent of them occurring in off- campus student housing. The reason is clear as noted by Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch.
"The bottom line is that an entire generation lacks basic fire prevention knowledge and with diminished access to that generation, how will we ever decrease fire-related deaths? With a new approach," said Comeau. With this grant, the goal is to reach the nearly 17 million students currently enrolled on our nation's campuses by making the fire and burn safety awareness program To Hell and Back III mandatory at freshman orientation.

To Hell and Back was first introduced to members of the fire service during the 2005 Fire Department Instructor's Conference held annually in Indianapolis, IN. The burn prevention program was built around a documentary featuring painters critically burned in a box truck fire. The response to the program was phenomenal but also came with a strong demand from firefighters for a second installment that would focus specifically on firefighters burned in the line of duty. As a result, To Hell and Back II: Firefighter Situational Awareness was launched at the 2006 FDIC conference and uses 3-D graphics to tell the story of what went wrong when firefighters were burned or died from their burn injuries. The second installment also featured a Community Awareness and Juvenile Firesetter component as well.
Terry Royce, a Reading, PA firefighter, was especially pleased with the To Hell and Back programs. "As a firefighter in this department for 27 years, I was badly burned in a fire where two other firefighters and I were trapped," said Royce. "The firefighter who was with me and four civilians were killed, while another firefighter and I were burned. Thank you for doing something about those of us who have been burned and preventing those who haven't been burned from ever having that misfortune."
This grant completes the To Hell and Back series with a third project that will actually allow firefighters to participate in fireground operations, utilizing advanced interactive computer technology. Firefighters will learn or refresh situational awareness proficiencies imperative to preventing burn injuries or death from burn injuries. Battalion Chief Tom Demint of the Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, CO, believes this technique will benefit the younger, technology-driven firefighters who can often be a challenge to teach, considering their technology-savvy generation. With the help of the Art Institute of Orlando, To Hell and Back III will be created specifically for use in fire service training.
As with previous installments, To Hell and Back III will be provided free of charge to all 38,000 fire departments across the United States. Numerous fire departments throughout the U.S. currently use the previous two editions of To Hell and Back as part of their firefighter training. Effective January 1, 2008 To Hell and Back programs will be mandatory for all fire service agencies in the state of Arizona. Shawn Longerich, Executive Director of the People's Burn Foundation is certain this advanced program will reach firefighters on their level. "The People's Burn Foundation believes in the motto of 'Everyone Goes Home' as set forth by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The To Hell and Back programs are making news headlines across the country with their success because these programs fall directly in line with safety initiatives established by the NFFF," said Longerich. "Our programs support the implementation of safe practices as an eligibility requirement for firefighters and we have every reason to believe that this program will follow the same successful path." A new path is being created by the People's Burn Foundation on college campuses nationwide. To Hell and Back III will offer a separate component specifically targeting this demographic. During the development phase of To Hell and Back II for community-based education, the team discussed this target audience and methods firefighters could use to insure the impact of the message. It was determined that the amount of information needed for this particular group needed to stand out on its own. The proposed project will appeal to this "reality show" demographic and provide an in-your-face video production utilizing the acclaimed documentaries To Hell and Back and After the Fire. After the Fire is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo documentary, created by Star Ledger Photographer Matt Rainey, following the Seton Hall Fire in 2000. Firefighters throughout the United States who currently protect college and university territories know far too well the complacency of college students due to their disregard for fire alarms and escape plans, their indifference for safety in student housing when doing daily household activities, and their impaired judgment from alcohol consumption. Right now, firefighters feel the students aren't motivated to practice fire safety because they don't understand the consequences of burns or death due to fire. "We are extremely grateful to the Department of Homeland Security for providing PBF and Campus Firewatch the opportunity to develop this project which will begin to fill in the gap in fire prevention education for what has become an at-risk demographic for fire-related fatalities," said Longerich. By teaching students the reality of burn injuries in a way that the message becomes personal, the goal is to motivate and empower them to not only change their attitudes, but pass those changes on to future generations. To Hell and Back III is not meant to be a scare tactic. It is however real, effective and statistically proven to motivate behavioral change. If research hold true, students will walk away from this experience realizing it could happen to them too. "I am incredibly excited about this project and the opportunity to work with such an experienced and impressive team," added Comeau. "This project will set the standard for campus fire safety training. By using a dynamic DVD-based program, coupled with the power of the Internet, we will be able to put this information directly into the hands of every single campus and community fire official that wants it, free of charge." For more information about local firefighter or community-based To Hell and Back programs, visit the People's Burn Foundation website at http://www.PeoplesBurnFoundation.org.

SOURCE People's Burn Foundation of Indiana

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