News story

'How to train your family'

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Fire Services Minister Penny Mordaunt welcomes unique collaboration between award-winning Fire Kills campaign and DreamWorks’ 'How to train your dragon 2'

The Department for Communities and Local Government has teamed up with the Hollywood animation studio, DreamWorks, to launch an innovative partnership between the award-winning Fire Kills campaign and the new ‘How to train your dragon 2’ movie.

Fire Kills encourages families to test their smoke alarms on the first day of every month, using a wide range of media channels to target audiences of all ages.

The collaboration is an example of how the government is working constructively with the private sector to the benefit of both partners.

The plot of the DreamWorks production released through 20th Century Fox - with friendly fire-breathing dragons living in wooden Viking homes, with obvious home fire risks - presented an opportunity for collaboration, using the power of the film’s brand to reach families and improve public safety. Producers permitted the use of selected images and characters from the film and arranged for special artwork to be commissioned.

Fire Kills then ran a special ‘How to train your family’ campaign in the week leading up to the film’s launch on 11 July, benefiting from the extensive wider promotion of the film and targeting families with young children who, hopefully, will pester their parents to test their smoke alarms regularly.

The collaboration resulted in an eye-catching press advert using images of the main characters Hiccup and Toothless - the dragon blowing smoke towards the smoke alarm and a call to action ‘test your smoke alarm on the first of every month’.

Fire Kills launched the advert in the week of the film release through a Featurelink campaign – with editorial copy running alongside a paid for advert – in local newspapers across England, tailored in many areas by the inclusion of local fire and rescue service contact details.

The Fire Kills Facebook page - with a following of 26,000 - also posted a modified version of the advert and promoted the message:

You may not have a fire-breathing dragon in your home but you still need to train your family to test your smoke alarms to keep them safe. If you forgot on the first of the month, do it today.

This post, uploaded on 8 July reached well over 1 million people.

The Fire Kills team at the department and at Dorset Fire and Rescue Service also worked to develop content for an education pack which DreamWorks illustrated with their dragon characters - a valuable resource available to all fire and rescue services to use as part of outreach work with schools and young people. A special screening of the film took place in Dorset for the main partner school as a thank you for their support.

Fire Services Minister Penny Mordaunt said:

The Fire Kills campaign’s collaboration with ‘How to train your dragon 2’ is a brilliant way to spread this life-saving public safety message and reach a wider audience through partnership.

The plot of the film and familiarity of its characters was too good an opportunity to miss given our campaign objective of persuading families to be more fire safe by regularly testing their smoke alarms.

The power of young people’s influence is well known as being effective in getting parents to change their behaviour. And ‘How to train your family’ was the perfect way to tie the 2 together.

Further information

Fire Kills is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government in partnership with England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities. Its main aim is to encourage householders to make sure their smoke alarms are working by testing them regularly. The campaign also promotes other home fire safety messages, including planning escape routes, careful disposal of smoking products, taking extra care with cooking and electrical devices, installing extra smoke alarms where there are risks and testing for other people who need help.

The main ‘Tick. Tock. Test’ campaign over the 2 clock change weekends in October and March urges people to test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks to check they are working properly.

In 2013, the Fire Kills campaign’s successes included:

  • Marketing Society Award for Excellence (Not for Profit category)
  • Account Planning Group Silver Award
  • Millward Brown Award for Best Insight
  • Campaign magazine top 10 regional newspaper adverts for 2013