Eighty-nine years of Fire Prevention Week
NFPA Journal, September/October 2011
In a fire, people with developmental disabilities or cognitive deficits may not be able to take life-saving actions. They may wait for verbal instructions on whether to escape, decide to stay inside until rescuers arrive, or run back into a burning building to seek shelter where they feel safe.
NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week (FPW) in the United States since 1922. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, that makes Fire Prevention Week the nation’s longest-running public health and safety observance. What began as a one-day observance in October has expanded to a week, which remains its official duration. Yet many fire departments across the country celebrate it throughout the month of October. However we recognize it, FPW has established a track record of which we can all be justifiably proud.
This year, FPW will be celebrated October 9 – 15, and its theme is "Protect Your Family from Fire." The campaign will focus on three protection elements: working smoke alarms, home fire escape planning and practice, and home fire sprinklers.
A lot of things have changed since 1922 — it’s safe to say that back then there was no FPW banner, website, or blog. Compared to the early days of FPW, today’s fire departments, schools, and businesses have access to a wealth of information and materials to support the week. All the materials created for the campaign are available through a quick link on fpw.org. There are brochures, coloring books, and activity books. Radio ads and three short videos are also available for download and delivery to local stations. You can also take the FPW quiz to test your safety smarts.
FPW products are only one component of the campaign. Whether you’re interested in materials for the fire service, for teachers, or for kids and families, we have it. There are three lesson plans for educators and the fire service to use with students from preschool through grade five. Our new family checklist has families working together as a team to protect their homes and be ready in the event of a fire. We offer everything you need on fpw.org.
FPW is essentially a grassroots campaign. NFPA’s role is to make sure educators have the tools they need to teach their communities about fire safety. Last year, we had requests to provide more information and tools to reach high-risk populations. We listened, and we’re pleased to announce a new section on fpw.org that includes materials designed to help you reach out to high-risk populations, including older adults, people with disabilities, and immigrant populations.
Our annual Scholastic project now reaches more than 150,000 preschool through grade five classrooms that subscribe to Scholastic newsletters. Sparky the Fire Dog® is front and center in the fairy-tale-themed kits: The Three Little Pigs work on a home fire escape plan, Sleeping Beauty is protected by a working smoke alarm and a home fire sprinkler system, and The Three Blind Mice test their smoke alarms. You’ll find lesson plans and reproducible activity sheets ready for teachers to use in local schools. These materials are also available for free download in English and Spanish at fpw.org.
Our FPW activities would not be complete without Sparky’s website, sparky.org, which receives more than 250,000 hits during the FPW campaign. Check out the interactive things to do on the site, where learning about fire safety is fun.
Finally, FPW is about you. Our daily blog, also accessed through fpw.org, is our way of communicating with you. Hop on board and join in the blog — we’re waiting to hear from you. Help us celebrate Fire Prevention Week and our long history of spreading the word on fire safety.
Judy Comoletti is division director of Public Education.