Tracy Last is a Social Entrepreneur and Fire Education Strategist You Need to Know

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

ICYMI, here are the first three segments of this four-part series from earlier this week:

What is your department doing for National Fire Prevention Week?

Tanya Bettridge is a Fire and Life Safety Educator You Should Know

Jennifer Cooper is a fire and life safety mentor you need to know

Now if you’ve been following along, you know that the focus here is how you and your department can develop some better strategies for teaching children and adults how to avoid becoming a victim of a preventable fire.

Because we know that conducting fire station open houses, giving away coloring books and plastic helmets and Junior Fire Marshal badges to children, and other “standard” fire prevention education tools and programs are not educational, right? Even those demonstrations using a residential fire sprinkler simulator are not giving people the knowledge and skills necessary to protect themselves today.

Break the mold this year

Tracy Last and the author, Robert Avsec, at Firehouse EXPO 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland

In Part I, I promised I was going to introduce you to four women that you and your fire department should get to know between now and National Fire Prevention Week 2019. Today the spotlight finally shines on:

Tracy Last, Fire and Life Safety Education Strategist, Owner and Developer of Fire-ED Interactive Community

Three words describe Tracy Last: Determination, passion, and PERSEVERANCE! I emphasized that last word because I’ve met very few people in my life that have the perseverance of Tracy.

I met Tracy through LinkedIn and shortly thereafter we began a cross-continental collaboration to inform, educate, and persuade fire departments in Canada and the U.S. that the “Fully Involved” Home Safe Fire Escape Teaching System was “the best tool on the planet for teaching children how to avoid becoming a victim of a preventable fire.”

With its unique auditory, visual and tactile benefits, the FireED “Fully Involved” Teaching Tool is the perfect resource for all age groups, and learning styles, to learn how NOT to become victims of fire. Here’s the key, anyone (not just fire service educators) can consider volunteer or employment opportunities with FireED. Finally, trainees, spectators, or anyone who cares like we do, may join the FCRRN (FireED Community Risk Reduction Network), the sustainable engagement tool that keeps the learning cycle going all year long.

FireED Community founder and developer, Tracy Last

Beyond that, we were creating and promoting her vision for Prevention Connection International (PCI), that is, to make it a world-wide connected community where fire and life safety educators, firefighters, retired fire service personnel, civilian men and women would find resources, connection, shared ideas, and much more.

The foundation of the FireED Community. Together, Tracy and the author worked diligently to help fire service leaders to see the value of the teaching system.

PCI eventually morphed into a much bigger FireED Community. The core of PCI is still there, but Tracy and her current team have gone full in to create that world-wide community whose mission is training firefighters and lay people alike to be fire prevention social entrepreneurs.

What makes Tracy Last a social entrepreneur? An entrepreneur creates a product or service that meets a willing consumer’s need. It might be a need that the consumer didn’t even know that they had; or it might be a better solution to a known need.

Tracy Last working with firefighters to show how easy it is to use the “Fully Involved” Home Safe Fire Escape teaching system

A social entrepreneur sees the opportunity to change the paradigm with tools or technology that meets a need in ways that make people wonder afterwards, “How did we ever do the job before?” 

We want to live in a world where fire is no longer a risk and threat to humanity. We believe this is possible by empowering young people to be FireED Leaders, with the skills to live more safely, and the tools to help others achieve the same positive results.

Changing the game as a social entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Last’s initial efforts at being a social entrepreneur, in a fire and life safety educators’ space, met with great resistance from the very organizations—And their communities that would benefit most. Rather than fire service organizations endorsing, adopting, or promoting the “PC” that she’d developed for the industry experts to use, namely, the FireED Interactive System, Last found an uphill struggle.

But she’s still plugging along today, and even faster! Did I mention that one of her virtues is her perseverance? And that’s why Tracy Last is a social entrepreneur you need to know!

For more, visit Tracy’s LinkedIn Page

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

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Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, rpa1157@gmail.com.