Jonas Awarded State Recognition for Public Education Efforts
Marshfield Fire & Rescue has promoted fire education for many years, and this year Marshfield Fire & Rescue’s Erik Jonas, Fire Prevention Coordinator, was chosen by the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association as the Public Educator of the Year.
Presented annually to an outstanding Public Educator (career or volunteer) who has demonstrated superior achievement in the area of fire prevention, and is based upon the nominee’s accomplishments, service, and reasons that qualifies them for this recognition, this award was presented at the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association Annual Conference on October 26, 2017.
“Erik has done so much in the past year,” said Marshfield Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Owen. “We used to show fire safety videos and demonstrate fire gear then around 2003 we switched to fire safety performances as clowns. The clown shows ran for 10 or 11 years and we saw that a change was needed as the clowns were getting older and the 4th through 6th graders were not ‘into’ them. We felt we were losing those students; we were sort of in flux. Erik really saw that as an opportunity for us to improve again, take the education level one step higher and he did so. He made contacts with principals and teachers and developed the concept of going into each individual classroom and getting more 1-on-1 interaction with the kids. And they love it.”
In 2016, Jonas implemented (along with several members of the committee) a program where members of the public education committee met with each elementary classroom over the course of several weeks and taught them the important fire safety messages that had once been communicated in large group settings.
“This proved to be extremely popular with the children as well as the teachers and school administrators,” said Owen. “Through this program we as an organization have strengthened our relationship with the schools, school administration, and most importantly, the children.”
Jonas, who has been with the department for nearly eleven years, humbly credits the efforts of the Fire Safety Team for the program’s success.
“Honestly, I’m just the guy that took the initiative to put the team together and that team has earned this award,” said Jonas. “This award is a reflection of their professionalism and their dedication to the citizens of our community.”
When first named Fire Prevention Coordinator, Jonas had three goals in mind.
“My first goal was to get into the K-6 schools and create a relationship with those kids, a relationship between the students and the firefighters,” he explained. “I think that once that relationship was solidified, the safety message was better received.”
His second goal was to work more with middle school students, an age group eager to learn but sometimes overlooked.
“I’m happy to say that in December we’ll be providing hands-on CPR training to seventh-graders,” said Jonas. “We are a safety team that
As a safety team that promotes safety on all levels and to all ages, Jonas’ third goal was to provide more education services to area businesses.
“Hopefully, with the new fire extinguisher prop that we are currently fundraising for, we will be able to provide adults with educational experiences- rather than seeing them only on their worst day or for inspections,” said Jonas. “We aim to provide an educational service from kindergarten all the way to adults and seniors. We are not just fire prevention. We are safety-oriented and we want to be involved in the community.”
Jonas’ education format was further expanded in 2017 with the goal of bringing fire safety educational programs to the high school seniors just before graduation, reminding them of fire safety when they are living on their own or away at college.
“Most students currently do not get any type of fire safety education after the 6th grade and this is concerning to members of this department,” said Owen. “Erik is working with committee members to build the program and we are excited to see what this year will bring for public education in Marshfield.”
“Thank you to our fire department and the citizens,” said Jonas. “It’s a humbling experience and it’s nice to know that other people buy into my vision for community involvement. It starts at the top. If we have an education-minded administration, that really helps. I was allowed to hand-pick a diverse team and that’s really been beneficial.”