Posted by Patrick McMahon

At our October 5th rotary lunch meeting, Phil Zaleski spoke about the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, of which he is Executive Director. The Alliance is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1982 with the mission of fire safety, burn prevention and the support of burn survivors. The Alliance has a staff of three employees, and is guided by a volunteer board of 11 members.  The Alliance is involved in fire prevention education and advocacy, the support of burn survivors, and legislative advocacy in favor of its mission.


The largest program to support burn survivors is Camp I Am Me, which was formerly known as Burn Camp. The camp takes place on 70 acres of a YMCA camp in Ingleside Illinois, and has been the signature program of the Alliance for 27 years. The camp is one week long and draws from state-wide, and attracts burn victims ages 8 to 16 years. The camp involves traditional daily camp activities, as well as activities designed to build the self-esteem of burn survivors. The camp averages approximately 70 campers per year, and has a staff of 60 full-time staff members,.  The staff includes volunteers from fire service, medical personnel and burn survivors and camp alumni.


Alliance programs to support burn survivors also include Family Day, scholarships to the International Burn Survivor Conference, and the Young Adult Summit. Family Day is designed for burn survivors younger than eight years old and is meant to provide an opportunity for families and parents of survivors to interact. The scholarships to the Conference are approximately $2000 per person, and 5 to 6 scholarship recipients are named each year.  The Summit is effectively a continuation of I Am Me Camp for 18 to 25-year-old burn survivors. The Summit includes workshops that are that teach life skills and personal growth for burn survivors. For more information visit