Chilliwack firehall shares messages of safety this season

Advent calendar idea snowballs into community Tweeting project

Mayor Sharon Gaetz was one of the first community members to sit down to deliver a special holiday safety message at the Chilliwack Firehall. Her message and others are being shared on social media as reminders to the public to have a safe holiday.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz was one of the first community members to sit down to deliver a special holiday safety message at the Chilliwack Firehall. Her message and others are being shared on social media as reminders to the public to have a safe holiday.



Chilliwack’s firefighters want everyone to have a safe Christmas, and they’re counting down the ways to make it happen through a series of online videos.

They’re calling the advent calendar-inspired series 24 Days of Holiday Fire Safety, and they’ve reached out to the community to help share the message. Guests have been coming into the hall, sitting by the Christmas tree, and reading one of the 24 tips. The videos are then uploaded, just one per day, to the Chilliwack Fire Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The hope is that the community will see the short little videos and share them on their own social media.

Getting holiday safety messages out each year are an important part of the public education portion of the firehall, says Lisa Axelson, the department’s Fire Prevention Officer.

“We wanted it to be quick, easy and mindful,” she says.

While some of the tips may seem obvious — keep your tree watered, keep children away from hot surfaces and stoves, for example — Axelson says even the most conscientious people make mistakes.

“We get too busy,” she says. “We’re a very busy community.”

So getting those tips out once a day, just one at a time, is a great way to keep safety top of mind through what can be the busiest time of year.

The list of community volunteers who have been filmed so far include Chief Ian Josephson, Mayor Sharon Gaetz, the BIA’s Harold Zinke, and even The Chilliwack Progress’ Jenna Hauck. They also had people from Bowls of Hope, the City of Chilliwack, RCMP, Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Program, city councillors, and so many more.

The idea is one that “snowballed” from a desire to really decorate the firehall this year. Each Christmas, the City of Chilliwack has a decorating contest for municipal offices, and last year, the firehall didn’t fare so well.

“We decided we wanted to put in a little more effort this year,” Axelson says, “and the Chief thought it was a fabulous idea.”

Axelson decided to create an advent calendar with safety tips, and eventually they were calling up their closest contacts to help deliver their messages.

“We connected with all these people we deal with on a regular basis,” she says.

Each guest is invited to read a message, but also deliver their own personal message from their organization.

Gaetz reminded people to “treecycle” at the end of the season, courtesy of the city. But she also was enjoying a hot cup of mulled apple cider with Santa Claus in her video, in memory of the late Capt. Don Van Beest, another fire prevention officer.

The cider is an annual treat Van Beest would share with the hall, and they continue to serve it up at Christmas time.

“It’s just warmed apple juice with spices, but it’s a thing we do and he shared his recipe with us,” Axelson says.

To see more tips, visit the Chilliwack Fire Department’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, or search  #chwk24daysofholidaysafety on Twitter.