Lesson plan for places of worship

Published on February 11, 2013
When conducting focus groups among ministers serving people in a high-risk to fire community in Memphis, the public education division learned that ministers would be willing to have a fire safety educator or firefighter give a fire safety presentation to the congregation during the actual service. Below is a 10-minute presentation that can be given by fire safety educators or firefighters at a place of worship. (It would also be fitting for a community meeting.)  

The presentation focuses only on the most important prevention, smoke alarm, and escape information. You can add local statistics and a personal experience. Download the presentation(PDF, 411 KB) 


(Feel free to change or add to the introduction as you see fit. For example, this may be a good point to add a personal touch .)

  • Good morning/afternoon! It is my pleasure to be here with you today.
  • My name is ___________________________________ and I have worked as a firefighter in this community for ________ years.
  • I was very surprised when I found out that our community was at a higher risk to fire than other communities.
  • I’ll bet that you weren’t aware of this either… and that is why I am here today to give you some tips on how to prevent fire and how to protect yourself and your families from fire.
  • What is really frustrating for me is that most of these fires could have been prevented.
  • So today I will give you some tips on how to prevent fire and how to protect yourself and your families from fire.
  • I want to make sure that fire doesn’t happen to any of you…I want our community to be safe from fire.

Major causes of home fires

First, I want to talk about a few major causes of fire and to tell you how to prevent them from happening in your home.

Cooking fires

  • The most frequent type of fire is a cooking fire.
  • Many people have had a stove top fire.
  • The most common type of cooking fire is cooking left unattended.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially if you are cooking with oil or at high temperatures.
  • If a pan of food does catch fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan and then turn off the burner.
  • Be sure to let the pan cool before taking the lid off.
  • Always use oven mitts to handle hot pans, so you don’t burn yourself.
  • Also, when you are cooking, you should wear tight fitting clothing or short sleeves so your clothes won’t catch on fire.
  • Baggy clothes or dangling sleeves can easily brush over a hot burner and catch fire.
  • If your clothing does catch fire, the best thing to do is to Stop what you are doing immediately, Drop or lower yourself to the floor, and Roll over and over to put out the flames. Use cool water to cool the burn.  Get medical help right away.
  • We call this the “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique. Never run if your clothes are on fire, as this will make the flames bigger.

Careless smoking

  • The first is careless smoking, which is the number one cause of fire deaths in the United States.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside and dispose of the cigarette butt in a can of water or cover it with sand. That is the safest thing to do!
  • However, if someone does smoke in your home, use deep, sturdy ash trays so the cigarette cannot easily roll off.
  • Be sure to wet all cigarette butts and ashes before throwing them out.
  • Never smoke in bed or when you are tired.

Heating equipment

  • Another common cause of fire in the home is heating equipment, like space heaters.
  • If you use a portable space heater or have a wall space heater, keep your heater at least three feet from anything that can burn, such as furniture or drapes.
  • Be sure to shut heaters off when you go to bed or if you leave your home.

Electrical equipment

  • The last cause of fire that I would like to talk about is electrical equipment.
  • Many people use extension cords but might not realize that extension cords are intended for temporary use only.
  • If you are using an extension cord all the time for something, consider having a qualified electrician install a new electrical outlet.
  • Avoid putting extension cords where they can be damaged or pinched by furniture and do not put them under rugs or across doorways.

Smoke alarms

  • I have talked about four major causes of fire in the home and some ways to prevent them.
  • Even after our best efforts, however, fires still happen sometimes.
  • If a fire happens in your home, knowing about it immediately is essential to your escape, especially if the fire happens at night when you are sleeping.
  • The best device to alert you to a fire in your home day or night is a smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms do save lives.
  • They can detect a fire in its very early stages and sound an alarm that will alert you and give you the precious seconds you need to get everyone out of the home safely.
  • For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in each bedroom.
  • Make sure the alarms are interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test your smoke alarms once a month by pressing the alarm test button, just to make sure they work.

Home fire escape planning

  • Finally, what should you do if you have a fire in your home?
  • Everyone needs to know what to do when the smoke alarms sound. Take a few minutes and walk through your home with everyone who lives there and determine two ways out of each room and two ways out of the house.
  • Who will look after those who may need some help getting out, such as very young children or older adults? Decide ahead of time who will be responsible for helping those who need assistance to get out.
  • Fire and smoke spread very quickly so it is important to get out right away. If the exit path is filling with smoke, get down low.
  • You may only have seconds to get everyone out, so you won’t have time to gather valuables and possessions.
  • Once everyone is outside, meet at a pre-arranged spot and call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or cell phone.
  • Once outside, stay outside, never go back into a burning building.
  • Practicing this home escape plan is essential.


  • Today I have talked about four major causes of fire and how to prevent them.
  • I have also talked about the importance of having working smoke alarms and a home fire escape plan.
  • Please go home today and share this information with your entire household.
  • Also, check your smoke alarms and talk about your home fire escape plan with your family.
  • As I said earlier, this community is experiencing too many fires.
  • My Fire Chief and all of the other firefighters in this community are determined to reduce the number of fires, injuries, and fatalities that are occurring in our area.
  • To do this, we need your help!  
  • Thank you so much for listening and if you have any questions, I will be around after the service to talk or you can contact any fire station in your community.