Former SBM firefighter and investigator Becky Booker is the recipient of the 2022 Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education from the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and the International Fire Service Training Association/Fire Protection Publications/Oklahoma State University. Booker is a former oncology nurse who worked for 20 years at the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department in a variety of roles.
She started the Home Safety Survey to help homeowners identify potentially dangerous situations or conditions, and is personally responsible for over 4,000 surveys over the years. She also started the New America Academy that sought to provide fire safety and educational programming for culturally diverse communities in the Twin Cities.
She credits much of the program’s success to former longtime SBM Chief Nyle Zykmund.
“He said, ‘Okay, pick three that you think are things that really will bring down fires after your experience the last three months,’” remembered Booker. ” We picked: going in the house, schools, and canvassing with a sidebar of residential sprinklers. And to this day that really is the key components to our programs, because if we weren’t getting that right, then the rest of it didn’t matter.”
Booker said the in-person and personalized visits helped put a lot of people–particularly immigrants–at ease.
“What you think is a hazard may not be what I think is a hazard, from fire calls, because we know what causes fires,” she said. “I can give you valuable information. I’m going to write down what I think you should do, and then go on to the next things. At the end, you would hand it to them and it would go nowhere else. So they have everything to gain in changing their habits and nothing to lose.”
Booker will receive the award at the 32nd Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner on April 7 in Washington, D.C.