Fire Department Goes High Tech To Save Lives

Newport Beach Fire Department

NEWPORT BEACH, CA -- With a 2002 Fire Prevention and Safety grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, the Newport Beach Fire Department (NBFD) developed the Newport Beach Safety Ladder, an interactive and multimedia educational CD-ROM and DVD-ROM for adults and children. The CD uses photos, text, video clips, animation, graphics, sound effects, and music to present information on fire safety and prevention, disaster preparedness, first aid, and beach/ocean safety--the "rungs" of the safety ladder. In the "For the Kids" section of the CD, children watch demos and learn about home exit drills, fire extinguishers and how they are used, and smoke detectors. It features teaching videos by firefighters and animation, all communicating safety lessons.

Located about 50 miles south of Los Angeles, the City of Newport Beach has a population of about 70,000 and more than 9,000 registered boats. The Department's fire protection services are blended with the marine/lifeguard safety services.

NBFD's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members obtained the training needed to create and produce the CD on their own. "The Safety Ladder interactive CD has been an excellent tool for educating our community," says NBFD Chief Tim Riley. "The information provided on the CD is invaluable and provides a resource that can be viewed at the residents' convenience."  The Department believes that providing information in multiple formats increases comprehension and retention. The interactive CD uses multimedia technology to convey safety messages in an entertaining and interactive format. A companion DVD was produced for individuals without a computer; the DVD plays the educational videos from the CD. The CD/DVD also allows residents with hearing and visual disabilities to learn by either watching or listening to the different audiovisual formats provided.

"The CD has enabled our Department, which has limited personnel and time, to provide educational information to a large number of people," says Jennifer Schulz, NBFD Emergency Services Assistant. The format allows the user to learn at their own pace and accommodates different types of learners: auditory, visual, and manipulative, says Schulz. In addition, mass reproduction of the CD/DVD will be cheaper than any alternative educational tools, including brochures, videotapes, and in-person presentations. It also can be replicated for use in other communities.

The Department's goal is to distribute 5,000 copies of the CD/DVD free of charge to Newport Beach residents, and to date about 2,000 have been distributed through community events, schools, public safety classes, and other outreach opportunities. They also plan to provide links on the NBFD Web site to the CD and DVD content.

What they bought with the grant:

  • Computer with video editing capability
  • Laptop computer
  • Video editing software and training
  • Digital cameras, including video cameras
  • VCR
  • CD/DVD duplicator and supplies
  • Laserjet color printer and supplies
Last updated October 27, 2020