RING THE BELL FUND
School Fire Safety Ignites Sustainer's Passion
Fire drills are commonplace at California schools, but when it comes to other aspects of fire safety, such as automatic sprinklers and monitored fire alarms, many schools - including nearly of the public school districts in San Mateo County - are lacking. What's more, current state law doesn't require such precautions.
That unsettling reality prompted League Sustainer Virginia Chang Kiraly and her husband, Ken, to found Ring The Bell Fund, which aims to provide much-needed funds for all California schools to install sprinkers and connect their fire alarm systems with their associated fire departments or fire districts.
"Like me, I think many parents assume that school fire alarms are connected to a first responder," says Kiraly, director of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and president of the Fund. "As a former PTA President and Chair of the League's Survive Alive House project, I began thinking that educating children about fire safety wasn't enough, sespecially when a first responder might not have any idea that there is an emergency."
The Menlo Park-based nonprofit launched in May, less than eight months after a fire at Menlo Park's Beechwood School. Despite being located just one mile from the closest fire station, the school's fire alarm was not connected to the local fire protection district.
The Fund has already received a $20,000 challenge grant from Facebook and was granted tax-exempt/nonprofit status from the IRS in August. "During this waiting period, I have looked for grant opportunities and potential donors and partners to help us fulfill our mission in the most cost-effective and expedient way possible," Kiraly reports. "It's a huge task, and our board has been creative, resourceful and caring as we figure out how to tackle this enormous problem within our immediate community and, eventually, statewide."
For more information, visit www.ringthebellfund.org.
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