Good morning, everyone! It’s Find Out Friday time!
I want to introduce you to my good friend, Sylvia Rodreguez Peace, from Greenville, Texas. She and I met during a random group exercise in a class at the 2019 NFPA Conference in San Antonio, Texas. What started out as a few plesantries exchanged and a couple of selfies taken, has turned into a fast friendship and a comrodery of shared experiences as she and I try to educate and inform our communities to keep others safe.
So, enough about us, let me give her the stage. Here she is, my incredible friend: Sylvia!
- How long have you being doing community risk reduction/safety education? It will be 7 years this June!
- How did you find your job at the fire department? I was working at the library here and this job was announced as a newly created position in the fire department. I created public programs at the library for all ages and this seemed like a great opportunity to do the same thing but in a different environment.
- What is your favorite thing about working at Greenville Fire Department? Two things, actually! 1. I have an amazing group of firefighters around me from the chiefs to the rookies who make my job easy. 2. Being able to continue relationships and partnerships with the residents and various agencies that I met over my 9 years at the library. Instead of helping them select books, I now work to help them live and play safer. Greenville is a great little community!
- You’re friends with many other community risk reduction/safety educators across the country. How did you come to meet them all? I am so blessed to know so many amazing educators from across the country! It started with my first class at the National Fire Academy in 2015 – I had amazing instructors and an awesome group of classmates that just clicked. I consider them dear friends to this day. Through them, I learned about and attended various conferences where I was introduced to more educators.
- You’re the creator of the Fire Life Safety Educators & Coordinators Facebook group? How did you get the idea for the group and how has it been used to help educators like yourself during this worldwide pandemic? Lol! I created it out of necessity. Not having come from a firefighter background like other educators, I wanted to try and reach out to others whom I might learn from, as well as, provide a place to compile resources and network. I love being able to learn what people are doing in other parts of the country! I think the biggest way it has helped during the pandemic, is that it has allowed us to mentally boost each other up. For educators whose jobs are to go out into the public to reach our audiences, COVID-19 has challenged us to find new, and often unique, ways to get our messages to our target audiences. This group is so willing to share and work together to help each other come up with solutions for our various community’s risks.
- What’s your best community risk reduction/safety education memory? Oh my, I have so many, lol. Overall, it is anytime I see somebody “get” what community risk reduction is about. Whether it is one of our firefighters or a resident or a business that decides they want to partner with us to prevent more injuries or deaths in Greenville. Knowing that they believe enough in what CRR is about and they trust us enough to partner with us towards a common good is a great feeling!
- What’s the biggest challenge to working in community risk reduction/safety education? Getting people to take responsibility for their own safety. We are all guilty of being complacent at times but the mentality is often, “Oh, if something happens, I can call 9-1-1.” If you are having to call us, it is too late. The car crash, house fire, drowning has already happened and you are calling us to stop something from getting worse – “after the cows have gotten out of the pen,” so to speak. How much better would it be for everyone if you let us help you “fix the gate so it wouldn’t open and your cows never got out?” That’s what prevention is about!
- 2020 has been such a strange year for all of us. What is one thing you hope to achieve or accomplish during the remainder of the year? Again, a couple of things come to mind. One is becoming a National Fire Academy instructor. I want to be able to give students new to Fire & Life Safety Education, the same experience I had in my first class. Second, is to find new ways to provide fire and injury prevention education in what will no doubt be a new world, post COVID-19.
- What is one interesting fact that very few people know about you? That I worked for a professional minor league baseball team (the Amarillo Dillas) just after college!
- If a youngster wanted to join the fire service, what are a few things you think they should know? The obvious: study hard in school, make sure you get physically fit before you try to get hired – especially to be a firefighter. It’s hard work and takes a toll on your body and on your mental health. Keep yourself out of trouble. Fire departments conduct extensive background checks. Most importantly, don’t do it unless you really like helping people. No one will get rich being a firefighter but if you love helping others, it’s a great career.
Man! Sylvia blew me out of the water with these detailed responses. As you can see, although she’s only a “youngin'” in the safety education rhelm, she works “fast and furiously” and is recognized across the country for her geniuine nature and her collaborative spirit!
She’s a joy to be around. I wish all of you could have met her in person today, but I’m so glad you were able to meet her virtually.
Hats of to Sylvia for all the work she’s doing
from her spot in the world; Greenville, Texas!
If you have questions or comments (or just want to give a shout out) to Sylvia, feel free to do so in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll make sure Sylvia sees any and all comments, questions, etc.
HAPPY FRIDAY! HAVE A TERRIFIC AND SAFE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!