When the Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in the early 1970s, one of its first targets was backyard (Class C) fireworks, traditionally sold from roadside stands in the weeks before July 4. Organizations representing fire chiefs, the blind and the public health community lobbied hard for a ban on this class of fireworks to prevent unnecessary fires and injuries. The American Pyrotechnics Association, representing manufacturers of these fireworks, asked Kellen to help them manage this crisis, which would have destroyed its member’s livelihoods.
Kellen worked with the Consumer Products Safety Commission to prevent a ban on fireworks, and at the same time launch a CPSC-approved annual safety campaign targeting parents of young children. Kellen formed and managed the National Fireworks Safety Council (NFSC), which included fire chiefs, teachers and consumer representatives. The agency then developed and distributed educational materials for schools, parents, fire stations and emergency response units to teach parents and young children how to handle their Fourth of July fireworks safely. Finally, Kellen implemented an annual media campaign, including major op-ed placement, news articles, radio and TV media tours and a media “hotline” in the weeks leading up to July 4th, reminding parents and consumers about the importance of fireworks safety
The consumer safety campaign led to a dramatic drop in firework-related injuries, meaning that backyard fireworks could continue to be made and sold for July 4 celebrations. Kellen received two awards for excellence in public education from the Public Relations Society of America, including a Silver Anvil.