Fire safety heats up La Plata
Book encourages families to practice fire safety
Not all superheroes fly through the air. Some burst onto the scene in a firetruck to battle a blaze that only knowledge and preparation can extinguish.
Michael Furman, the creator, author and illustrator of “Flash Max Fire Safety Super Hero,” said the idea for the children’s book came from his own young ones after witnessing their disinterest in some fire safety flyers.
“My little ones who are in elementary school came home two years ago from fire prevention week and we came across some materials that the local firehouse brought by and while we were going through things they took the fire prevention materials and threw them away. I thought the message was going right into the trash... and I thought it was a damn shame.”
As a professional firefighter for 16 years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and a 30-year firefighter and life member of the La Plata Volunteer Fire Department, Furman knew the importance of fire safety and witnessed it daily. He said after the tragic Anne Arundel County mansion fire that killed six people, four children and their grandparents, after a Christmas tree caught fire, he knew he had to do something.
The Welcome resident and father of three said the idea for his book hit him “like a ton of bricks.”
“A big part of our jobs is not just putting out fires but it’s trying to prevent those 911 calls and those fires from happening in the first place,” Furman said.
He created a character he hopes will engage children and parents and encourage them to read the story together and heed Flash Max’s message of having a fire escape plan in place and practicing it regularly.
“[The book] breathes new life into a decades old message. A very important message is getting lost in the delivery. It’s dry and people think it won’t happen to them. [The book] makes it interesting because kids nowadays gravitate towards superheroes,” Furman said.
Furman said the Pfun-omenal Stories published book begins with an introduction to Flash Max and his smoke alarm shield. The story’s arch nemesis, Blaze, is fire personified in a non-intimidating way, Furman said.
The book also discusses how fire safety weeks began, how to install and maintain smoke alarms and what to do when the alarm goes off.
“Firefighters train and drill on what to do in a hostile environment but when kids and families wake up in smoke in the middle of the night with a fire alarm going off it doesn’t matter if you’ve lived in your house for 20 years you’ll get lost and disoriented,” Furman said.
The author said he hopes Flash Max will encourage readers to live by the motto, “Families who practice together, survive together.”
“I ask the kids ‘how many of you play sports?’ and all of them raise their hands. ‘What do you do before a game?’ ‘You practice.’ ‘Exactly.’ You practice and it becomes muscle memory and that’s what needs to happen. Make it fun, like a family game night or something.”
Furman is hosting a book release and signing event 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the La Plata Volunteer Fire Department, where Furman said he began his career as a firefighter.
In addition to music and games, the event will feature a Toys for Tots collection and an appearance by Flash Max.
Now that his first book is complete, Furman said he is working on a few other projects including a Flash Max sequel and fire safety calendar that dedicates each month to a different safety theme throughout the year.
Flash Max, the title character in Michael Furman’s book “Flash Max Fire Safety Superhero,” teaches children and families to practice fire safety at home so they are prepared if a disaster should happen.
Flash Max Fire Safety Superhero is a story written and illustrated by Michael Furman, a 30-year firefighting veteran, who aims to encourage families to develop their own fire escape plan and practice it to prevent tragedy in the future.
Michael Furman, a 30-year firefighting veteran, wrote a children’s book about fire safety he hopes will help families prepare their own safety plan in case of a disaster.