The National Fire Protection Association is seeking a special firefighter to be the voice of its official mascot.
NFPA spokesperson Lorraine Carli said that other than some public service work by Dick van Dyke in the 1980s, Sparky has not had a consistent voice since he was created in 1951.
“Because the fire service has been so involved in promoting Sparky’s fire safety messages, they were the logical place to look for the voice,” Carli said.
The “Voice of Sparky” contest, which is part of a year-long celebration of Sparky’s 60th birthday, is open to career and volunteer firefighters as well as other fire department employees.
Partipicants must submit an online application and a three-minute video telling about themselves by Feb. 16. The video should also include their best impersonation of Sparky using a short script provided on the contest’s website.
A panel of NFPA judges will select three finalists, and America will vote for their favorite on Facebook between Feb. 21 and 28.
The winner will be announced on March 1. He or she will receive an authentic Sparky the Fire Dog costume, a paid trip to Boston to record for the NFPA Fire Prevention Week video and public education materials on fire prevention.
Carli said Sparky has had a positive influence on fire prevention since he was introduced in an Advertising Council campaign 60 years ago.
His first appeals to kids came through radio public service announcements and television. Now he has his own Facebook page and website, where kids can download fun activities, play games, watch short cartoons and explore the parts of a fire truck.
“Children are great receivers of the fire safety message. Over the last several decades, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of home fires and home fire deaths, but we need to do more,” Carli said.
She added that approximately 3,000 people die each year in home fires. Children under 5 are one and a half times more likely to become a victim of home fires than any other age group.
For more information about the contest, visit www.nfpa.org/SparkysBirthday. Kids can visit Sparky at www.sparky.org.