The simplest volunteer effort ever

There has been no shortage of news over the past few years regarding local fire companies and their, well, shortage of funds. Now, that’s not to suggest that any of our departments are teetering on the brink of closing their doors, but more to the point that increased funding could enable them to provide more and better services than we already enjoy here through the hard work of our brave volunteers.

We should all be grateful that they take their responsibilities as seriously as they do, and it should be both our obligation and pleasure to do whatever we can to help them provide increased services, and to better save our hides if trouble ever leads us to calling their number.

Preachy enough for you? I know. I’m sorry. Sometimes I get on these kicks where I become some kind of self-righteous noodlehead who embarks on these missions to try and save the world by ...

But I digress.

So, what got me on this save-the-world kick this time? Mental hallucinations that involve a caped version of myself flying around the world thwarting crime and extinguishing blazes with my breath? An experience wearing tights that led me to wanting more experiences wearing tights? Saving my pug Bailey from a falling tree by simply shooting lazers from my eyes to shatter the tree into kindling and protect my little friend? Nope. It was a phone call. But, yes, I was wearing tights.

I bet that was a mental image that stung a few eyeballs.

Regardless, the phone call was good news, and it originated from Mary Beth Murray from the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company.

Murray told me about a program that Liberty Mutual is now doing that will, hopefully, increase fire safety awareness and bring some money to the fire department, as well. It’s called the “Fire Safety Pledge Program,” and I think it’s a great idea.

Liberty Mutual will be donating 10 grants of $10,000 apiece to fire departments that can muster up the most community participation in the program. To participate, all you have to do is go to the Web site, click on the icon in the lower-left corner called “Fire Safety Pledge Program” and take a brief 10-question quiz on fire safety.

The entire exercise took me about five minutes, and, yeah, I did get two questions wrong (which could have been much worse if two guesses hadn’t been correct). The questions focus directly on issues that will make your home more safe if you pay attention to the answers, and are simple “true-false” in nature.

It couldn’t possibly be any easier for people to participate. You don’t need a perfect score to earn credit for the fire company. You don’t need a pencil and a piece of scratch paper to figure out your answers. And there are no pictures of me in tights greeting you on the page.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Bethany Beach fire company was ranked fourth in its division in participation. The top two in each division earn the $10,000 grants, and Murray told me that a department in Mississippi just jumped up the rankings — probably after a promotional campaign down there upped participation.

Let’s make this happen. Log on to the Web site and answer the very easy quiz. This is win-win for all of us.