Urban fire safety

Published on January 29, 2013
A large urban city is defined by a population of more than 250,000. While living in a city may not increase the risk of fire, demographic changes including the growing numbers of older adults, people with disabilities, immigrants and people living in poverty may impact fire safety in the city. Large urban city fire departments have particular challenges with limited resources, working in high-crime areas, leveraging relationships with city-wide institutions, reaching multicultural communities and getting residents to focus on fire safety.
  • Intentional fire rates and arson fire rates are highest in large cities.
  • Electrical equipment is a major cause of fire in older cities.
  • Large cities have a lower share of owner-occupied housing units.

Source: NFPA Urban Fire Safety Project Report (PDF, 737 KB), November 2007

Video: Kwame Cooper, Assistant Chief of the City of Los Angeles Fire Department and Chairperson of NFPA’s Urban Fire Safety Task Force, summarizes points made in in the project report. See more videos related to NFPA's Urban Fire Safety Task Force.

Guide for public fire education planning for urban communities

NFPA has issued Public Fire Education Planning for Urban Communities: A Five- Step Process Guide to Success (PDF, 3 MB), a guide urban fire departments can use to plan for public fire and life safety education programs in their cities. The guide is an adaptation of the U.S. Fire Administration’s Public Fire Education Planning: A Five – Step Process.

This guide presents a systematized five-step process for identifying fire and injury risks in urban communities, developing partnerships, setting priorities for programs and initiatives according to need, developing and implementing programs, and evaluating the results. Planning done in this manner ensures that the program’s strategies and initiatives really address the problems at hand.

Read real-life examples from the Hamilton (ON) and Philadelphia (PA) fire departments that used the Five-Step Process to identify, implement and evaluate programs in their cities.

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