Fire-safety program spreads around worlds

WINNIPEG – It’s been nearly eight years since Laura Johnson died, but her memory lives on through the dedication and persistence of Winnipeg firefighter Shane Ferguson.

Ferguson was on of the first on the scene to an early-morning fire that destroyed the five-year-old girl’s North End home. He and his partner found Laura hiding beneath her bed and rescued her from the flames, but tragically it was too late. She died later from smoke inhalation.

“You do rescues, you get people out, but those aren’t the ones that stay in your head,” says Ferguson, a 16-year veteran of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. “It’s the ones that don’t make it. It’s something I’ll never forget..”

Having already been involved in talking to schools about fire safety for several years before Laura’s death, Ferguson became more committed to preventing the same thing from happening again. In a tribute to Laura’s memory, he created Staying Alive – a fire-safety program that teaches kids from kindergarten through to Grade 8 how to react in the event of a fire.

All too often, he says, children’s first instincts are to hide in a closet or under a bed, like Laura did, making it difficult for rescuers to find them and get them out safely. The program stresses the importance of having a home escape plan and teaches children fire-prevention strategies.

In 1999, Ferguson added to the safety program with the development of The Great Escape – an interactive computer game that complements the Staying Alive lessons. With the help of volunteers, supporters and sponsors, more than 60,000 copies of the game have been distributed to schools, fire departments and day-care centres across Canada. Another 10,000 have been circulated around the globe. The game is now available in Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico and every single U.S. state.

And the game’s success doesn’t look as though it is diminishing. Next week, Ferguson will travel to Montreal to launch the game in French. And it is now being translated into Spanish.

“More firefighters know what happens out there, and if we can prevent it from happening that’s a good thing,” says Ferguson, who was honoured with the Mayor’s Distinguished Firefighter of the Year Award in 2004 and the Kids’ Sake Award from Today’s Parent magazine in 2005 for his efforts in promoting fire safety.…

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Factors to look for when choosing a Roof

If you’re on the lookout for a roofing contractor, there are many Best Contractors in Alberta provides for its residents. They can help you rebuild and transform the roof of your home to its former glory. Finding roof contractors in this town can be quite overwhelming but once you find the right builder, your roof will be in top shape in no time.

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Consult with your Contractor
There are many important factors that you need to consider when choosing a roof. Ask your contractor how long will the material last? This is crucial information because it can help save you tons of money.

Pick a style that will match the exterior of your house. Homeowners want a roof that will not only provide protection over their heads but looks good as well. Try to picture the overall look and if it will match the rest of the style, color, and finishing of your house. No one wants a mismatched design for sure.

If you live in an area that is more prone to bad weather and harsh environment such as typhoons, hurricanes or wildfires, then it is very important to ask your roofing company Calgary expert to recommend a material that can withstand these extreme conditions. Factor in how many times a typhoon hits your area. This will help your builder identify what kind of durable material will best fit specific weather patterns.

Your contractor must measure the dimensions and weight of the roofing material to determine if the frame on your roof can hold the material. There are cases when some materials are too heavy for the roofing structure. Check if the material has enough slope for your house.

If you prefer environmental-friendly products, select materials that are eco-friendly and recyclable. Discuss with your roofing contractor if the type of roofing material you prefer is permitted based on the building codes. Once you’ve listed all your requirements and preference, you can finally ask your roofing contractor to provide an estimate cost so you can check and work with your budget.

In some cases, there are certain roofing materials that are more appropriate for other houses. The material, quality, and durability may vary depending on the type of roof needed for your home. Some materials are more resistant to wind and rain while others are fire resistant.

This is why your builder’s input is much-needed. Their expertise will help you make the right choices and ultimately save you more money. If you are on a strict budget, ask for the best option that is less expensive but can still do the job. However, if you don’t have any particular amount to work with, you may opt to get the best material so you won’t have to worry about getting a hole on your roof anytime soon.…

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It’s about Staying Alive: Mother recalls tragic night house fire claimed daughter’s life

WINNIPEG – Petra Johnson faced a difficult question seven years ago as she woke to the sound of a blaring smoke detector and a foggy blackness wafting through her home.

As she and her husband David ran down the third storey stairs to try to get everyone out, she tried in vain to remember where her four children were.

“A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like. It’s like having a bunch of tires on fire in your house,” said Petra, describing the thickness and stench of the smoke that can very quickly disorient a person in a house fire.

Petra and David Johnson were the parents of Laura Johnson, the little girl who died in a house fire in 1998 that inspired Winnipeg firefighter Shane Ferguson, along with the creative energies of firefighter Jeff Derraugh and musician Mitch Dorge, to create the Staying Alive initiative.

Staying Alive en français

 Students at Ecole Lacerte have given the French version of Staying Alive two thumbs up.

The kindergarten to Grade 8 students were introduced to the fire safety initiative last week as Winnipeg firefighters Shane Ferguson and Andre Couture prepared to take the French version on the road for an eastern Canada launch.

Staying Alive is a not-for-profit fire prevention initiative.

It was born after the 1998 house fire in which Ferguson played a part in the rescuing five-year-old Laura Johnson, who died two days later from smoke inhalation.

Since the girl’s death, Ferguson has been determined to reach as many young children as possible.

And now with help from his French-speaking buddies, Ferguson is hoping to break through the language barriers.

“It’s exciting. The Winnipeg kick-off was great,” said Ferguson, saying the purpose of the game is to remind kids of basic fire safety messages every time they play.

“Fire safety is more than just one week a year. You have to keep reminding them.”

After the St. Vital firefighter was featured in Today’s Parents magazine for receiving a For Kids’ Sake award in October for his efforts surrounding Staying Alive, Ferguson was contacted by a fellow For Kids’ Sake award recipient, Jake Shtern.

Shtern invited Ferguson to Montreal to share the fire prevention and dafety message there.

Armed with the interactive computer game, The Great Escape, which was translated to La Grand Evasion, Ferguson and Couture introduced it as home last week at Ecole Lacerte.

“It’s well made. I like that they give you various scenarios and choices. (The game) shows you how each choice works out. It’s a little young for my age group but it would be really good for younger kids and little kids with their parents,” said Grade 8 student Mikael Wsiaki.

Two students from each grade were selected to participate in the press conference and launch.

From there the students took the copies of the games back to their classrooms and presented to their class.

“I think others my age would like to play. It’s fun and it teaches you a lot about fire safety,” said Grade 4 Emilie Ferguson.

Emilie said the game was refreshing because it wasn’t just Sparky the Fire Dog, with the usual message.

“I think it’s cool and it’s nice to have different things other than just always the dog,” she said of the Fire lobster, Louis the Firefly, Flip the Fire Monkey, and Mrs. Aboutfire.

To play the Staying Alive game in either language, visit the website at

Photo clip: Ecole Lacerte grade 4 student Amelie Bauch plays La Grande Evasion.Article courtesy The Lance, Transcontinental Weeklies.…

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Computer game teaches fire safety to kids

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is introducing a new way to send fire-safety messages to young children: computer games.

A new game called “The Great Escape” is meant to help children make smart decisions when faced with a fire.

The Firefighter’s Burn Fund put up $50,000 to bring the game to life. It’s a personal mission for the game’s creator, Winnipeg firefighter Shane Ferguson.

Ferguson was inspired to find new ways to get the safety message out to children after finding a five-year-old girl hiding under her bed in a fire-ravaged house five years ago. The girl died two days later in hospital.

“The message is getting out, but they’re not retaining it,” he says. “We’re losing kids every year to house fires because the first thing they want to do is hide.”

The game is aimed at students from kindergarten to Grade 8.

“It shows the way how you’re supposed to get out of the house when there’s a fire,” says Paige Buss, a six year old who has tried the game.

While the older students acknowledge the game is for younger kids, they seem to enjoy it.

“It’s for little kids mostly, but it’s pretty good,” says 12-year-old Danelle Cloutier. “It teaches you what to do and what not to do if there’s a fire.”

“I knew most of it, but I didn’t know you should check the batteries in your flashlight, so that was a new thing for me,” adds Meagan Ferguson, also 12.

The game is already played in 215 Winnipeg schools. It will go online during the first week in October, which is fire prevention week across the country.…

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Program helps educate kids about fire safety

Math, English and science are just some of the subjects students are preparing to study when they head back to school.

But South Winnipeg firefighter Shane Ferguson is hoping they will think about another important subject as well: fire safety.

Ferguson founded the Staying Alive program about three years ago to help educate young people and their families about fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire. When he isn’t working as a firefighter, Ferguson visits schools to share information about fire safety. He also oversees the Staying Alive Web site, which features fire prevention tips and other fire safety information.

The site was produced in co-operation with the City of Winnipeg’s Fire Paramedic Services.

“The idea is to instill a life skill,” says Ferguson, who volunteers his time to educate people about fire safety. “If it saves a life, it’s the greatest thing we can do.”

Those who visit the Staying Alive Web site at can expect to see several new additions to it by early fall, says Ferguson. Three new interactive games are planned, including one which helps people identify fire hazards.

Ferguson says he’s grateful for the many contributions of those who have supported the program. Those supporters include local personalities, who have volunteered their time to share fire safety tips on the Staying Alive Web site.

Some recent additions to the site include fire safety tips from Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray and Premier Gary Doer, as well as new fire safety songs entitled Fire Alarm’s Ringing and Stop, Drop and Roll.…

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