The Bedford County Department of Fire and Rescue was recognized during the 2020 Virginia Fire Chief’s Association Meeting and Virginia Fire Rescue Conference with the Governor’s Fire Service Awards for Excellence in Community Risk Reduction.

The department created an interactive assembly- style program that educated 3,852 pre-K thru fourth graders. The development of the program was based around the NFPA’s theme of “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.” It included teaching points on fire safety, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, escape plans, safe meeting places, and fire drills.

With the help of the various fire stations throughout the county, the program also covered firefighter equipment and familiarization, including what a child might see firefighters wearing during an emergency. The children were also given a tour of their local station’s fire apparatus and had the opportunity to ask questions about fire safety. The program is a successful collaborative partnership between the department, local fire companies, and the Bedford County Public School System.

The fire prevention program in Bedford County has had positive results over the years and is under constant review to find ways to better engage with students. The fire safety and prevention programs are designed by Firefighter Giles Hoback, Community Outreach and Recruiting, and managed by Deputy Chief Janet Blankenship, Deputy Chief of Administration. Dr. Karen Woodford, Chief Learning Officer of Bedford County Public Schools, submitted the nomination because she found value in the program and wanted to see the department get some recognition. The department is already starting to make tentative plans for the next year’s presentation.

Questions about the programs offered through the department, including community risk reduction initiatives, can be directed to the Chief of the Department, Jack Jones, at 540-587-0700.

– Submitted by Giles Hoback III