Agriculture Press Release

September 28, 1998

Activities Planned Throughout Florida
To Promote Fire Prevention Message

TALLAHASSEE In the wake of the devastation caused by massive wildfires this past summer, the message of fire prevention holds a special meaning for Floridians. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford is encouraging all Floridians to commemorate Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, by participating in the many special activities planned by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"Florida experienced its worst wildfires on record this summer, with hundreds of thousands of acres burned and many homes destroyed," Crawford said. "At times it seemed like our state was literally burning to the ground before the situation was brought under control. Now that the crisis has passed, it is time for all Floridians to be thinking about prevention. National Fire Prevention Week gives us the opportunity to focus our efforts on this important message so that, hopefully, we can avert such a catastrophe in the future."

The Departments Division of Forestry is planning a number of special activities that will allow the public to experience Floridas forests first-hand, visit with foresters and firefighters, meet Smokey Bear, and learn about preventing wildfires.

"A wide range of activities are scheduled," said Earl Peterson, director of the Division of Forestry. "Celebrations, festivals, mall and shopping center exhibits, elementary school programs, and parades are just some of the events. We invite all Floridians to participate."

Important topics, such as how professionals use prescribed burning to help prevent wildfires, and how residents can safeguard their homes from wildfire by creating defensible space around it, will be covered.

Several events are planned throughout October. If no contact is listed, please call your local Division of Forestry office for information.

October 1-4:

  • Fire prevention booth in the "Home and Patio Show" at the Prime Osbourne in Jacksonville. Talk with forest rangers and meet Smokey Bear.

October 1:

  • 10 a.m. Smokey Bear will appear at the First United Methodist Church Preschool, Daycare and Kindergarten, 2466 First Street, Fort Myers. Contact Jim Isaacs, 941-694-2181.
  • Fire prevention program with Smokey Bear at the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale for pre-kindergarten children.

October 2-4:

  • Wildfire prevention exhibit, parade, wildfire prevention clowns and Smokey Bear at the Bonifay Rodeo in Bonifay.
  • Wildland fire prevention exhibit at the Bay County Fair.

October 3:

  • Wildland firefighting equipment displayed on "Fire Safety Day" at the Wal-Mart in Cape Coral, 1619 Del Prado Boulevard. Smokey Bear will appear. Contact Jim Isaacs, 941-694-2181.
  • "Fire Prevention Round-Up" at the Wal-Mart in Wakulla County. Contact Matt Setterich, 850-414-1134.
  • Wildland fire equipment display. Talk with forest rangers. Appearance by Smokey Bear at the Lake Shore Mall in Sebring. Contact Carl Taylor, 941-655-6407.
  • Fire prevention exhibit on the "40th Anniversary Festival" at the North Florida Community College in Madison. Appearances by Smokey Bear.

October 4-10:

  • Fire Prevention Week Display at the Oaks Mall in Gainesville. Contact Eric Black, 352-955-2125.

October 4: Wildland firefighting equipment on display at the Lehigh Acres Wal-Mart, 2523 Lee Boulevard, Lehigh Acres. Appearance by Smokey Bear. Contact Brian McKee, 941-694-2181.

October 4:

  • Join the Little Big Econ State Forest Celebration at 241 North County Road 419, Chuluota. Wildfire prevention exhibit. Meet Smokey Bear and Forest Rangers. Contact Mike Martin, 407-366-8063.

October 5:

  • Fire Prevention Program at the Myakka Elementary School in Eljobean.

October. 6-11:

  • The "Florida Forests Forever" Showvan will be at the Collier County Cooperative Extension Office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Learn about the forest through an interactive CD-ROM. Contact Rich Gordon, 941-352-4212.

October 6:

  • Smokey Bear will appear at the Sea Crest School in Collier County, educating children about preventing wildfires.
  • Wildfire Prevention Program at the Meadow Park Elementary in Port Charlotte.
  • Wildfire Prevention Program at the Laurel Hill Elementary School in Okaloosa County.

October 7:

  • Fire Prevention program for third- through fifth-grade students at the Tamarac Elementary School in Tamarac. Smokey Bear will appear.
  • Smokey Bear will make an appearance at the Liberty Elementary School in Port Charlotte.

October 8:

  • Fire safety and smoke trailer at the Quincy Fire Department in Gadsden County. Learn how to protect your home and family. Contact Matt Setterich, 850-414-1134.
  • Wildfire prevention meeting at the Indian Lake Estates Home Owner Association Club House at 7 p.m. in Polk County. Learn about Prescribed burning for home defense. Contact Mark Calhoun, 941-635-7801.
  • Little Acorn Preschool in Crystal River. Fire prevention program for children with an appearance by Smokey Bear.

October 9:

  • Fire safety program and puppet show at the Ponte Vedra Elementary School in Ponte Vedra. See fire equipment and Smokey Bear.

October 10-11:

  • "Meet the Forest Ranger" fire prevention display at the Waterfront Festival in Punta Gorda, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact the Division of Forestry, 941-751-7629.

October 10:

  • Firefighting equipment display and Smokey Bear at the Lehigh Acres Fire Department.
  • Wildland equipment display at the Ferry Pass Fire Department Appreciation Day in Escambia County.
  • Fire prevention exhibit at the "Chicken Festival" in Burnsville.
  • Smokey Bear and Jimmy Kramer at the "1998 Wildland Firefighter of the Year" award recipient. Fire prevention booth at "Mayos Pioneer Days" in Mayo.

October 12-13:

  • Grand Ridge Field Day at the Grand Ridge Fire Tower near Marianna. Meet forest rangers, fire tower lookouts, fire prevention clowns, and Smokey Bear. Contact Jim Brown, 850-482-9564.


October 17:

  • Daytona International Speedway "Pepsi 400." See Smokey Bear and Forest Rangers in the Parade Lap. Daytona.
  • Pioneer Days Celebration at Pine Castle in Orlando. Forestry exhibit, parade, and appearances by Smokey Bear. Contact Joe Raines, 407-856-6512.


October 18:

  • "Wildfire Prevention Day" with Wildland Firefighting Equipment Display and Smokey Bear at the Santa Fe High School, Lakeland. Contact John Knowles, 941-648-3163.

October 22:

  • Pensacola Interstate Fair in Pensacola. Fire prevention exhibit.

October 25:

  • Citrus County Career Day. Equipment display at the Lecanto Middle School in Lecanto. Educate students on the effects of wildfires suppression tactics and the value of prescribed burning.


For more information:

Terence McElroy

Matt Weinell

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