Fresno Firefighters Reach Hispanic Community Through Firefighters On Your Side

California Fire Foundation Campaign Highlights Importance of Escape Plan

In Fresno, where nearly 40 percent of residents are Hispanic, fire safety messages can get lost in translation.

Firefighters still recall the story of the little girl, who was killed in a house fire in Fresno last year, because her family didn’t know the importance of smoke detectors.

“They didn’t understand the language so messages of about this important topic never reached them,” said Fresno Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo. “We want to make sure this never happens again.”

To this end, Fresno Firefighters enlisted help from Firefighters On Your Side, the program created by the California Fire Foundation, to communicate the importance of having an escape plan in Spanish and English. In February, they began saturating their community with the Spanish/English campaign “Tenga Un Plan De Escape/Have an Escape Plan.”

• Members of Local 753 and the Fresno Fire Department visited Fresno area schools to show students how to make an escape plan for their homes. Brochures were sent home with students in Spanish and English so that they could educate their families.

• Commercials in Spanish and English highlighted the need for an evacuation plan in the event of a house fire. To date, every major network in Fresno has aired the 30-second commercials created by the Foundation.

• Firefighters reached residents through their Web site and media interviews, again in Spanish and English.

“We had the chance to really get to know the people we serve face to face. We’ve gained trust and respect in the community, and done something really proactive from a safety standpoint,” said President of Local 753 Jerry Smith.

Prior to this, Fresno Firefighters participated in the Disaster Planning for the Elderly campaign, which was sponsored by Firefighters On Your Side. Each year, the Foundation adds additional topics and languages to its program offering.

If your local is interested in participating in the Foundation’s Firefighters On Your Side Program, contact the Foundation at (916) 641-1707 or For more information, visit or