Fire Preparedness & Response Workshop #IAMPREPARED

The idea for the Fire Preparedness & Response Workshop was formed by seven young active citizens from Suriname and funded with an Alumni TIES small grant. The goal of the workshop was to cooperate with the Fire Department in Paramaribo to create safer and healthier communities by providing local Surinamese citizens with information and skills in fire prevention.

The project team meeting to plan the Fire Preparedness & Response Workshop

In the beginning, our team brainstormed how the workshop could achieve the biggest impact and create value for the community. We started out by contacting the local organizations that we wanted to collaborate with in order to have a broad reach of organization type and locations.

Within one week, we were invited by U.S. Embassy Paramaribo to give a briefing of the project and received a certificate that allowed us to begin the execution of the program in Suriname. It was a wonderful experience meeting U.S. Ambassador Edwin Nolan and his staff.

After several weeks of preparing the workshop, we sat down with our local stakeholders, the Fire Department in Paramaribo and a team from the U.S. Civil Affairs department, to receive their input on the execution of our plan. After that meeting, we agreed to focus on including outdoor simulation stations, which would equip the participants with practical skills to extinguish or escape a fire.

The project team meeting with local stakeholders

On September 22, 2018, we officially kicked off the Fire Preparedness & Response Workshop. It began with an opening speech by Patrick Geraghty, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Paramaribo and was followed by a speech by me, the project leader Moreno Jackson. Through these speeches, we made clear that we were striving to educate people on the many dangers that fire can cause and providing them with the basic tools to contribute to a safer community.

The Fire Department was the first to begin the workshop activities as they provided participants with information on the potential causes of fire and practical responses. Immediately following the local Fire Department, the Coordination Center for Disaster Management (NCCR) spoke about their role within the community and their role in fire prevention and disaster response.

Moreno Jackson giving the opening remarks at the Workshop

Closing out the theoretical half of the day, the participants transitioned to lunch where they had the chance to network and meet with different individuals in their community.

Once lunch ended, we moved to the second half of the workshop that focused on the practical application of the skills and information that they had learned in the morning. We began with a simulation where participants were divided into four groups and were placed at four different stations.

At Station #1 (Extinguish Station), participants learned how to act when dealing with fires either inside or outside, including an opportunity to use a fire extinguisher. For Station #2 (Smoke Simulation Chamber Station), participants were able to practice appropriate responses to fires such as escaping a room full of smoke safely and quickly. In Station #3 (Medical Station), the U.S. Civil Affairs team in cooperation with the Suriname National Army demonstrated how the participants could respond to a person injured during a fire with basic home supplies, such as plastic wrap and bags. At the final station, Station #4 (Home Fire Safety Assessment Station), participants were asked to complete a set of “Yes or No” questions as part of a home safety assessment. The goal was to equip participants with the knowledge on how to develop a response plan to a potential home fire.

After two and a half hours of practical simulations and a surprise raffle of useful fire tools, we awarded the 105 participants certificates of achievement for completing the Fire Preparedness & Response Workshop. Each person left equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond safely and effectively to a fire.

We want to extend our gratitude and thanks to all our participants, local partners, and the Alumni TIES program. Without all of you, creating and executing this workshop would not have been possible.

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Alumni TIES

Alumni TIES


Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.