Whistle Stop Tour Ready to Roll
The nationwide effort will promote firefighter safety

Updated: 04-04-2007 10:01:58 AM

Firehouse.com News

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Whistle Stop tour kickoff less than 24 hours away, it's crunch time for organizers and the staff of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Over the next 37 days, a large tour bus bearing the names of 3,147 fire heroes will be making stops in 20 major cities across the country.

Those aboard -- who will include survivors of firefighters killed in the line of duty -- will be delivering life-saving messages. Their goal is change the culture of the fire service, and the way it does business.

At every stop, firefighters and citizens will learn about the 16 Life Safety Initiatives and the NFFF's Everyone Goes Home program.

The goal of that project is to reduce the number of firefighter deaths by 25 percent in five years, and 50 percent in the next 10. It's ambitious, says Ron Siarnicki, NFFF executive director, but attainable.

Although America is entrenched in the electronics age, Siarnicki said his staff saw the need to reach out to firefighters in person. They believe the impact will be priceless.

Richard Anderson, the unified commander of the event, said he and his wife, Terry, were on a trip when they saw a campaign bus. "We thought about the important message that Everyone Goes Home is trying to get out. So, we wrote a concept and it was submitted for a Fire Act grant."

They won a grant, and the Whistle Stop tour officially started picking up speed.

The idea then won the accolades of the Dunkin Brands Community Foundations, which issued them a grant, and became a major sponsor. "We were praised for what we do -- serve those who serve others."

In addition to stopping in major cities for events, the bus will visit local fire stations when possible. "We chose the cities to get the maximum exposure from media markets. They were selected after consulting with public relations experts."

Six specific weekend events have been planned in Sacramento, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. (or Montgomery County, MD), New York and Boston. They will include speeches from survivors and dignitaries as well as presentations and the "Courage to Stay Safe-So Everyone Goes Home" course.

There will be an apparatus displays and a safety fair at most locations. People also will have the opportunity to step into a specially designed trailer to see how sprinklers extinguish fires.

"I think this will be a great opportunity to bring the Everyone Goes Home program out into the communities...This was very thought out. We're not just hopping on the bus."

Survivors and others are expected to join the group and ride for a leg or two of the trip. Information about coming aboard is available on the website.

People will be able to follow the journey through daily blogs submitted by the riders.

At various stops, firefighters also will be encouraged to go on camera to talk about the impact of the program. Those stories will become part of future projects.

Whistle Stop