The Fire Chief Project: Public education ideas of the year

Here are 10 activities your plant team could duplicate to help raise the stature of the clean-water profession

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In keeping with the common practice of creating Top Ten lists at year’s end, here are 10 ideas taken from The Fire Chief Project blog that progressive facility teams have implemented, and that your team could consider replicating to further the aims of The Fire Chief Project:
· Raise clean-water professionals to the status of the fire chief.
· Make kids want to grow up to be clean-water professionals.

In no particular order of importance or merit:

  • Kevin Schlatz, superintendent of water pollution control with the Town of Enfield, Conn., got the governor to issue a proclamation in honor of Wastewater Treatment Appreciation Day.
  • Rahway Valley (N.J.) Sewerage Authority gives operators incentives to earn state licenses at progressively higher levels.
  • In a “Classroom Within a Company” program, United Water and the clean-water plant team in Killingly, Conn., invited sixth-graders for a tour accompanied by games, hands-on experiments, and a dancing activity to simulate the connection between temperature and molecular motion.
  • The Springfield (Ill.) Metro Sanitary District gave tours of its newly expanded Spring Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant that included a ride around the grounds in a trolley usually used to take tourists around to local historical sites.
  • Doug Sibolski, superintendent and chief operator of the City of Lockport (N.Y.) Wastewater Treatment Plant and Compost Facility, wrote a series of columns in his local newspaper to help readers understand what he and his team members do.
  • The clean-water plant team in Bemidji, Minn., got its city council to approve funding for a public art project to help beautify a concrete wall and its newly upgraded solids treatment process.
  • Staff members at the Bangor (Maine) Wastewater Treatment Plant let high school kids release to the Penobscot River eight salmon raised in a 180-gallon aquarium in the plant lobby, fed with plant effluent. A local TV station filmed the release.
  • Daphne (Ala.) Utilities holds Customer Appreciation Days where team members set up tents, roll out the grills, serve hot dogs and beverages, and wash the cars of customers who come to the office.
  • Recognizing that clean-water careers are for both genders, the North Shore Sanitary District in Lake County, Ill., took participants in a YWCA TechGYRLS summer camp on a tour of a wastewater treatment facility.
  • The Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, operated by Sanitary District No. 1 in Villa Hills, Ky., held “haunted house” tours for kids at Halloween, highlighting the scary things that could happen if the plant were not there, such as million gallons of sewage spilling into local rivers every day.

Feel free to share your ideas for The Fire Chief project with readers of TPO magazine. Send a note to


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