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

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

ICYMI, here’s Part I of this four-part series this week.

Photo courtesy of NFPA.org

Now if you’ve read Part I, 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

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. In Part I, you got to meet Samantha Hoffmann, Fire Prevention Officer, Barrie (ON) Fire and Emergency Service. In today’s blog, allow me to introduce you to:

Tanya Bettridge

Tanya Bettridge, Captain – Public Education at Mississauga (ON) Fire and Emergency Services

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting several articles from Tanya on this blog in the role of Guest Blogger. What struck me “like a lightning bolt” the first time I read anything by Tanya was her “big thinking.”

She’s kinda like The Great One, aka, Wayne Gretzky in that regard. When asked once how he was able to make the plays that he did on the ice, Gretzky replied, “I don’t go where the puck is, I go to where the puck is going to be.”

Tanya has a very different spin for how fire and life safety messages should be developed and presented to the public for maximum impact. Even the titles of her articles scream “READ ME!”

What Fire Departments Can Learn from Beer Ads – PART I

If you ask me, the key to understanding where Tanya is coming from is simple: Boring messages don’t move people to action. Here’s an excerpt from her second blog, Emotional marketing can make for better fire safety messages:

Enter the beer analogy (after all, who doesn’t love a comparison to beer?) and YouTube homework. Search for beer commercials. How many start with “Budweiser wants you to buy our beer”? Or “Only our brand of beer tastes good; drink a reasonable and legal amount.” Doesn’t that sound silly?

Yet, that’s precisely what we try to do with fire and life safety messages. “The fire department wants you to be safe. Install a CO alarm today.” “Remember, only working smoke alarms save lives. It’s the law.”

Photo courtesy of Tanya Bettridge (She just doesn’t know it yet!)

And you really want to hear what she has to say about smoke alarm installation programs! For more on that, check out her post, To Install or Not to Install. Or this one, How Pub Ed could save Suppression! You can find those two and several other “must reads” like, Alexa, how do I sell fire safety?, on her Tanya’s Activity Summary page.

For more about the woman, the myth, and the legend, visit Tanya’s LinkedIn Page.

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

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 makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].