Fire Safety House/Modern Woodmen of America Partnership

This is such a great example of the true One Simpsonville spirit. Mr. Stephens of Modern Woodmen of America contacted me early this year about ways in which his organization might partner with the city. I spent some time learning about him and his organization and talking with Ms. Tiffany Cherry, our Community Relations Specialist, Mr. David
13177472_1708838509392773_2008053661691080840_nDyrhaug, our City Administrator, and Mayor Curtis. Then, in one of our budget workshops, we heard about a Fire Department “want:” a fire safety house (read more here). This was something that we obviously were not going to be able to budget for, given our vast number of critical needs. But it sounded like an excellent opportunity to partner with an organization like Modern Woodmen. So we took the idea to Mr. Stephens, who did some research, and determined that he had a matching funds program that we could take advantage of for this project. And so we took it to Council, who (after some initial objections) unanimously voted to move forward on the project. Once approved, the work began to plan a special fundraising event to raise our match to obtain these funds. But here’s the really wonderful part: once the public heard about our efforts to fund fire safety education through private partnerships, people started calling to find out how they could help. Individual citizens wanted to know where to send money. Business owners wanted to know how they could help raise awareness. Bethel Trails Farm, a local business that operates at our Simpsonville Farmer’s Market, offered to host a fundraising event at their farm—and they wanted to donate a whole pig to entice people to come and give. And it worked. We raised over $1,800.00 that night. But that’s not all, the Farmer’s Market itself offered a significant monetary donation AND volunteered to raise money over the course of the summer, keeping a “Loot for the Boot” collection boot and encouraging customers to donate. At the end of the summer, they’ll donate it all to the fund. And finally, this October, we’ll be holding a Stop, Drop, and Run 5K (stay tuned for more details) to wrap up our fundraising efforts. This event is made possible through a number sponsorships from businesses and citizens. This whole project illustrates the One Simpsonville spirit very clearly. In this venture, we have truly united our city—its citizens, its businesses, and its government—working together for continuous improvement.  Plus, we now have a partnership with Modern Woodmen of America that we expect to last well beyond this project.

Fire Safety House

If you’ve reviewed the most recent agenda, you will notice that one of the items on which I’ll be making a motion is Funding for Fire Safety House.

Here’s the motion I’ll be making:

motion on fire safety house

Here’s the background information:

The Fire Department has listed an inflatable fire safety house in the amount of $10,250.00 as one of its “wants” for the next fiscal year.  However, given our vast number of critical needs, it is unlikely to get funded through the city.

We were approached by Mr. Stephens about partnering with his organization, which is starting a chapter here in Simpsonville. Modern Woodmen of America is a member-owned fraternal financial services organization. They secure futures with financial guidance and products. Since 1883, Modern Woodmen has brought people together, supported families and strengthened communities nationwide. As the Simpsonville representative, Mr. Stephens would like to help us in fundraising for the inflatable fire safety house through his Matching Funds Program. Mr. Stephens has already secured $3,000.00 in matching funds, and is working on an additional $2,000.00.  That means we’re almost halfway there.

Purchasing the fire safety house would allow the Fire Department to increase its efforts to provide training to children within our area on how to be safe and what to do if their home catches on fire. On average, our firefighters attend 7-8 events per month throughout the community to teach fire safety.  In 2015, they taught fire safety to over 6,000 Simsponville children. They receive regular requests for events that use a training tool like the fire safety house. In fact, they’ve had a 39% increase in such requests over the last 5 years. These requests include special events at Heritage Park; station tours;
various types of programs at the local elementary schools (i.e. – Open House, Field Day); daycare facilities (i.e. – Safety Day); and churches (i.e. – Family Fun Night); Grand Openings and special events at local businesses; and programs provided by civic organizations (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Make A Wish Foundation).

Yet, we do not have our own fire safety house.  While our Fire Department has often been able to borrow one from a neighboring department, it is often unavailable due to requests from other departments, or it is being used by the department that owns it.

The FD has applied for a number of grants through the years with no success. They are now requesting funding for a fire safety house through our budget process. We may not be able to provide the funds through taxpayer dollars, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support their efforts to help educate our children on fire safety.  As I said throughout the campaign, “We need to unite our city—its citizens, its business community, its non-profits and other community partners, and our city government—and work together for continuous improvement.”  A vote in favor of this motion would allow us to do just that.

I am so excited to bring this opportunity for the city to work together with Modern Woodmen of America and our community to the next Simpsonville City Council meeting.  This kind of working together is what One Simpsonville is all about.