November 2022 Burn Bulletin

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November 2022 Burn Bulletin

AARBF Participates in Fire Prevention Week

This year ‘s Fire Prevention Week (FPW) was held October 9th-15th.  Each day of FPW, we posted prevention messaging and highlighted FPW activities taking place. This was the 100th year of FPW and we congratulate the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for their dedication to providing prevention education to make our homes and communities safer from fire and burns. This year’s theme was “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”

FPW is observed nationally each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

Continue reading our newsletter to learn about all of the activities from the week.

N.I.C.K. Gets a Video

In honor of Fire Prevention Week 2022, Pyramid Educational Consultants and the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF), released the N.I.C.K. (Neurotypical/Diverse Independent Communication Kit), for Fire and Burn Safety, Instructional Video!

Inspired by Jacqueline Laurita, mother and autism advocate, the N.I.C.K. Fire & Burn Safety resources were designed to bring fire and burn safety education to individuals on the autism spectrum, those with developmental disabilities or communication challenges, and pre-school aged children.

Fire safety education is the first line of defense against fire fatalities and injuries. The N.I.C.K. resources can be used to teach learners with limited understanding of fire safety to follow visual safety directions during an emergency.

In this new 15-minute video, available on our website, we introduce the N.I.C.K. for Fire & Burn Safety materials and show parents and professionals how to use them. The video can also be found at:

Prevention in the Central Valley

As part of Fire Prevention Week and to spread the word in the Central Valley, AARBF’s McKenzie Dern attended two Burn Prevention Safety Fairs. The first was at the Community Regional Medical Center on October 11th and was coordinated by Marissa McCallough, Burn Program Coordinator and RN, and one of AARBF’s wonderful volunteers. The day was spent teaching about burn prevention and handing out educational materials to hospital staff and community members , with about 150 people in attendance.  We also partnered with Community Regional’s Safety Team to teach how to use a fire extinguisher. In addition, we got to say hello to our friends at Fresno Fire who brought a fire engine.

On October 12th, McKenzie also attended the Burn Prevention Safety Fair at the Clovis Community Medical Center. McKenzie partnered with the Leon S. Peters Burn Center, the Community Regional Safety Team, and Clovis Fire to provide burn prevention messaging to more than 50 staff and community members. A special thank you and shout-out to the National Nursing Cohort 26 for their support and volunteerism.

Our Friends Were Also Busy During FPW

AARBF had several Community Partners hosting events for FPW. Some of the events we followed were a Menlo Park Fire Prevention District Open House, SSFFD Bocce Ball Tournament, Central Coast Burn Relay, and the Albany Fire Pancake Breakfast, just to name a few!

In addition to these activities, we started October with our own Scott Wertz attending the Moraga Fire Pancake Breakfast on the 1st. While Fire Prevention Week is a popular time for activities, Fire Prevention Month activities take place throughout October.

AARBF provides materials to Fire Departments throughout the State that are often used during this important week and we’re proud to support the efforts of the NFPA.

SLO Fire Chief’s Burn Relay - Central Coast– a Fire Prevention Week Tradition for More Than 30 Years

On Thursday, October 13th, AARBF’s Katie Szymczak and McKenzie Dern rode along with the SLO Fire Chief’s Burn Relay – Central Coast -, collecting donations and making stops at a number of schools to teach them about fire prevention and life-saving techniques such as Stop, Drop and Roll. Thank you to all of our participating agencies: Five Cities Fire Authority, Atascadero Fire, CalFIRE San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay Fire, San Luis Obispo Fire, Diablo Canyon Fire, Templeton Fire, San Miguel Fire District and the Paso Robles Fire Department. They visited eleven elementary schools during the relay reaching hundreds of kids along the way. In addition, the relay raised almost $10,000!

Celebrating our 50 Year Anniversary in Style

On October 15th, we celebrated AARBF’s 50 years of service with more than 100 past volunteers, local fire officials and our founders, the Ruch Family, at a gala event at the Los Angeles Fire Museum in Hollywood. This spectacular evening was created and flawlessly executed by a team of dedicated 50th Committee members, who graciously volunteered their time, spending countless hours on planning. A special thank you to Committee Chair, Clif Stewart, for your leadership.

We would also like to thank our MC, and proud burn survivor, E.R. Ruiz. who brought his usual excitement and entertainment to evening.

During the event, we honored both the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the entire Ruch family for creating a legacy that has endured 50 years and is dedicated to providing burn prevention education and survivor services for the next 50 years! Speakers noted the many thousands of lives that have been impacted through the great work of the foundation and the global reach of programs such as Stop Drop and Roll.

Thank you to event sponsors: Matthew Cunningham/ Cunningham Law Firm, Avita Medical, Channel Islands Law Group, F&A Federal Credit Union, Dr. Ruth Rimmer / Care Plans For Life LLC, Julie Burn, Lea Elder, Jeff Gordy, Jennifer Radics-Johnson, Alisa Weber, Foley Family Wines, several anonymous donors and Firestone Walker Brewing Company. And thank you to all of our auction bidders and donors. It was a wonderful evening celebrating together 50 years of service and ushering in our next 50 years. Because of all of you, we raised over $70,000. Thank you!

Meet Our New Director of Programs and Services

In October, Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann joined the AARBF staff after more than a decade of volunteering for the foundation. His first AARBF connection was in the 1990s when he traveled the state of California doing elementary school fire safety presentations. After many years living on the east coast, he returned to California, and to volunteering for AARBF, as a Champ Camp counselor, Young Adult Summit mentor, board member, committee chair, and even a term as president of the board of directors.

Andrew has created some of our burn prevention education programs as the writer of the fire safety puppet show for children under five, “Lucky the Fire-Burping Dragon” and as the writer of the SPARC (Senior Prevention and Risk Conversations) program for aging adults. He also brings a wealth of real -world business marketing and business acumen and is a published author.

As the Director of Programs and Services, he is excited to be more closely engaged with our entire community of survivors, volunteers, fire services, medical professionals, and community partners, finding new and inspiring ways to connect and grow. You can reach Andrew at

Riding Along with the North Bay Burn Relay

On October 25th we were excited to see the return of the North Bay Burn Relay as an in-person event. During the relay, fire departments and community partners traveled from Fire Station-to-Fire Station collecting donations for AARBF. This relay was our opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge our dedicated North Bay community partners and thank them for their support.

There were two relay legs, with one traveling through Marin County and the other through Sonoma County. Marin County was led by Fire Captain Travis Fox, from Southern Marin Fire Department, and consisted of eight stops. He was assisted by Fire Fighter Zak Cordisco and AARBF Executive Director Daniel Chacon. Sonoma County was led by Fire Captain Keith “Padres” Muelheim ,with Sonoma County Fire Department, and had nine departments.

In all, the North Bay Relay raised $23,150! Thank you to all of the participating agencies: Southern Marin and Mill Valley Fire, Marin County Fire, Kentfield Fire, Ross Valley Fire, San Rafael Fire, Marinwood Fire, Novato Fire, Cloverdale Fire, Geyserville Fire, Healdsburg Fire, SoCo Fire Foundation, SoCo Union Fire, Santa Rosa Fire, Sebastopol Fire, Hessel Volunteer Firefighters, Gold Ridge Fire, Rohnert Park Fire, Rancho Adobe Fire, Petaluma Fire and the Sonoma County Fire Chiefs.

Learning New Techniques in Art Expression

On Thursday, October 27th we hosted an Art Expression session. Our special guest host was Noelle “Boots” Gill (who is no stranger to our Champ Camp family where she has run arts n’ crafts for several years) who graciously shared her talent and time with us. Supply kits were provided to participants who used them as Noelle led them through a technique where they drew with a wax crayon and then water colored it to create a new design.

The Expression Series is a regular virtual experience that features Writing, Art, Music, and Movement designed for survivors but sessions are open to anyone wishing to attend. The final session for this year is Writing Expression, scheduled on a special night Tuesday, November 29, at 7:00pm via Zoom. Follow our social media for registration information.

Get Your Dinner & Dance Tickets Before They’re Gone

Tickets to the very popular annual Dinner & Dance in Clovis are selling fast. Space is limited and last year we sold out early. The casual event features a dinner, cash bar, live auction, dessert auction, silent auction and DJ. Click here to visit our website to purchase tickets or to sponsor the event. We look forward to seeing you on December 10th!

Volunteer Opportunties:

Please check with your regional office for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

For Northern California, please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19

For Central California, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15

For Southern California, please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16

Upcoming Events:

November 24 & 25: ALL AARBF Offices Closed for Thanksgiving


December 1: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Caregiver Support Group – Online Video Support, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 3: SCVMC Holiday Party

December 3: Central Holiday Party

December 4: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann at 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or to receive log-in information.

December 4: Southern California Holiday Party, contact Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann at 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or for more information.

December 6: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 8: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Support Group contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 10: Dinner & Dance in Clovis

December 11: East Bay Holiday Party

December 13: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

December 14: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 20: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann at 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or to receive log-in information.

December 15: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Statewide Support Group – Online, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 22: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

December 24-January 1: All AARBF Offices Closed

If you missed any of our past Burn Bulletins, please check out our archives.