Rapping, dancing and dispensing safety tips, three local fire-rescue organizations shut the door on the competition to win a national video contest.
Greenville Fire-Rescue, the Rocky Mount Fire Department and Wilson Fire/Rescue Services teamed up to produce "Close B4 U Doze," a two-and-a-half minute video emphasizing the importance of closing bedroom doors before going to sleep.
The three departments won $25,000 to divide among them, which they accepted during a special ceremony on Tuesday. The money will used to further safety education.
The Close Before You Doze campaign sends the message that closing a bedroom door each night before sleeping creates a barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames should a house fire break out and there is no other escape.
Sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute, the campaign is in its fourth year, according to director of marketing Zoe Susice.
Susice said the contest’s entries were voted on by the public to select the top eight. Final winners were chosen internally by Underwriters Laboratories staff, using criteria including clarity and accuracy of the message, creativity, distinctiveness and overall likability.
“This team hit it out of the park,” Susice said. “The had a spot-on delivery for the Close Before You Doze message. The fact that three departments came together is pretty special as well.”
Greenville’s Fire and Life Safety Educator Rebekah Thurston worked with the Fire and Life Safety Educators from Rocky Mount and Wilson to produce the winning video.
It features a catchy, original rap that is engaging and educational, sharing key fire safety messages, according to Thurston.
“Besides closing bedroom doors at night, the video demonstrates how to safely escape a fire and the importance of having a fire escape plan,” she said.
Thurston said the departments were "humbled" to receive the award.
"Our hope is that the music video will help people better understand the importance of fire safety at home,” she said. “We are so excited. The money will go to purchase supplies and props. This doubles our budget.”
The video represents more than just winning a competition, Thurston said.
“More than anything, this is important because this video can help save lives," she said. "We hope that it is shared, not just across the state, but across the nation and maybe the world."
Blaise Harris of the Rocky Mount Department wrote the music and lyrics for the video. He contacted Thurston and Shauna Allen Smith of the Wilson department when he read about the contest.
“It was a joint effort,” he said. “The three of us work well together. I love working with those two.”
“Blaise was the mastermind behind the words to the song,” Smith said. “When we (three) work together it is like dynamite — TNT. I am just beyond words excited.”
She said the video is more than a message to adults from adults.
“It is a family message,” Smith said. Firefighters from the three departments appeared in the video, as well as some of the firefighter’s children.
Harris and Smith said they plan is to invest the prize money into their communities and target sometimes forgotten individuals — including the elderly and teens left at home alone after school.
“We want the people we serve to be prepared," Smith said. "If something happens and they are not, we feel like we have let them down."
Harris said that Smith is like his big sister and she kept the video going in the right direction.
Thurston, Harris said, is like his little sister.
“Her energy and know-how helped immeasurably. She was our visionist,” he said.
Thurston’s background is in television, which helped with producing the video. She did the filming and editing.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 40 years ago, people had 17 minutes to escape their home in the event of a fire. Today, fire burns faster due to synthetic fibers in furniture, lighter construction materials and open floor plans.
“This leaves people with less than three minutes to escape,” Thurston said. “If there is no other way to escape, a closed door helps buy precious time while waiting for help to arrive."
Underwriters Laboratories is a scientific safety company, dedicated to improving firefighters’ knowledge about how to save more lives and property.
“We want the public to know they should have working smoke alarms inside and outside of sleeping areas on every floor, have an escape plan and practice it and ‘close before you doze,’” Susice said. “It could save your life."
Susice said research explains the reasons rooms with closed doors offer a better chance of survival in the event of a house fire.
“A room with an open door will be 1,000 degrees or more. A room with a closed door, will be 100,” she said. “Chances of survivability are much greater behind a closed door.”
To view the winning video and other entries, go to CloseYourDoor.org/contest.