“Brian has been instrumental in establishing a safe community for children while dedicating his time to the creation of education and prevention programs. Many of his fire and life safety-based programs have been implemented or used as models across the state,” said Jennifer Sexton, Volunteer and Marketing Coordinator for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue. “Some of those programs include the Juvenile Fire-Setter Program, which was developed by Brian to educate children on the severity of burn injuries and how to prevent them. This program has been recognized by the Roanoke County Juvenile Court Services and it refers juveniles who enter the court system due to a fire incident.”
The Governor’s EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Awards Program was established in 1986 and recognizes individuals, agencies, community organizations, and businesses that provide or support emergency medical care in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Clingenpeel received the Western Virginia regional award in June and then moved on to compete at the state level.
Clingenpeel was the recipient of a similar award in 2009 from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs. He was presented with the 2009 Governor’s Fire Service Award for “Excellence in Virginia’s Public Fire and Life Safety Education.”
Clingenpeel is a native of Roanoke and graduated from Northside High School in 1988. He and he wife are graduates of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Clingenpeel went on to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Wanting to return to the Roanoke area, Clingenpeel accepted a call to a church in Crozet, Virginia, where he served from 1996-1999. He was asked to act as chaplain of the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department, assisting not just accident victims, but EMS volunteers. Clingenpeel decided that the best way to build relationships with the EMS workers was to learn to do what they did and subsequently signed up for Firefighter training.
Clingenpeel was able to return to his hometown when he became pastor of Villa Heights Baptist Church in Bonsack. He once again became involved in fire and rescue through friends who worked for a Roanoke County squad, became chaplain of the Read Mountain crew, and then chaplain for all of Roanoke County.
Roanoke County established the Public Education Specialist position formally in 2007 and Clingenpeel is the first to hold the job.
While Clingenpeel does some work in the schools, his responsibilities include educating all citizens of the County, ages preschool through senior adults.
“I train County residents on anything to do with fire safety education, life safety, and severe weather safety,” said Clingenpeel. “I spend as much time training adults as children nowadays, training staffs in places like retirement homes and factories.”
As for children’s programs, Clingenpeel has continued the “Character Academy for Kids” program instituted in 2004 by Roanoke County Fire Marshal Gary Huffman. This is a summer camp program where children are mentored by Roanoke County firefighters and EMS personnel.
“The camp highlights fire and life safety education, including experiencing the Department’s interactive Fire, Life, and Severe Weather Safety Trailer, which simulates smoke from a fire, tornadoes and kitchen fires, to name a few,” said Sexton.
One of the most popular programs that Clingenpeel shares with preschoolers, elementary school students, and even senior citizens is “Patches and Pumper”, an animated remote control Dalmatian dog and fire truck robot.
One of Clingenpeel’s most popular fire safety programs, especially during October, which is Fire Prevention Month, is the “Play safe! Be safe!” curriculum for preschoolers, which he uses in private, public, and even home-based programs.
Numerous school groups, churches, and civic organizations, such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, benefit from fire and life safety programs and visits to fire stations coordinated by Clingenpeel and the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department.
One of the biggest events for children, “Touch a Truck,” is held each fall at Green Hill Park in Salem, where children can see and learn about fire trucks, ambulances, and the Fire, Life, and Severe Weather Safety Trailer.
In Vinton, Clingenpeel has been instrumental in establishing the “Team Up for Fire Safety” art contest for students in grades K-5. The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department partner with Simmons Insurance and the Rockingham Group for the project.
In its second year the contest encouraged children at Herman L. Horn Elementary and W. E. Cundiff Elementary to design artwork celebrating the year’s Fire Prevention theme “Have Two Ways Out.” Students not only got a chance to express themselves creatively, but to learn important safety messages. Winning artists, their families, teachers, and principals were invited to a celebration at the Vinton Fire and Rescue Station.
“Brian’s significant contributions to Virginia’s local, regional, and state EMS system are exceptional and greatly appreciated by the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Sexton in announcing the Governor’s award.