“It was a huge benefit to me and the other educators I work with,” she said. “Our department was undergoing some changes at that time, with a new fire chief, major budget cuts, and talks of completely cutting out the public education unit. This recognition allowed not only the citizens of DeKalb County but our own personnel an opportunity to take a closer look at the work and knowledge we provide through public education. I’m proud to say we’re still here.”
As part of her award, Thompson was flown to the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas to be recognized during a presentation at the general session. She received a $1,000 honorarium, and her fire department received a $1,000 donation to support its public education activities.
“Winning the monetary award for my department in a time of heavy budget cuts was fantastic,” she said. “The money was applied toward our fire prevention festival in October, which meant we didn’t have to cancel the festival; it allowed us to continue to reach the community.”
Thompson encourages public educators to apply for the award and for colleagues not to hesitate to nominate the public educator.
“I was a skeptic, coming up with excuses not to apply, such as I didn’t have time, I didn’t want to bother others and ask them to write a letter on my behalf, and if I didn’t win everyone would know. But I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong. It turned out to be was an opportunity beyond my dreams.”
The application deadline for 2013 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award is February 22.