Sparky the Fire Dog Turns 55

Published on March 15, 2006

World-Renowned Dalmatian Continues Fire Prevention Message

SparkyMarch 14, 2006 – Sparky the Fire Dog, recognized the world over for his efforts to educate children and adults about fire prevention and life safety will turn 55 on March 18th. Born in 1951, Sparky is the chief spokesdog for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) public education work to help teach children about home safety issues and fire escape planning.

Sparky uses his birthday as an occasion to remind families about the importance of planning and practicing a home fire escape plan. He recommends families get together to draw a plan of their home that includes all windows and doors. Here are some important tips to help make a plan:

  • Two Ways Out: Every room should have two ways out if possible. One way out would be the door and the second way out may be a window. If the first way out is blocked by fire or smoke you should use your second way out. Emergency escape from a second story window may involve using a home fire safety ladder. If your escape plan includes an escape ladder, practice using it from a first floor window with a grown-up.
  • Working Smoke Alarms: Make sure your home has at least one smoke alarm on every level including the basement and outside the sleeping areas. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, have a qualified electrician install hard-wired interconnected smoke alarms in each room. Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button, and to replace the batteries once a year or when it makes a chirping sound which means the battery is running low. Replace alarms every ten years.
    NOTE: Newer smoke alarms have a universal signal repetition of 3 beeps, followed by a 1 1/2 second pause.
  • Outside Meeting Place: Pick a family meeting place outside the home, where everyone will meet once they have escaped. A good meeting place would be a tree, a streetlight, a telephone pole, or a neighbor's home. Be sure to stay a safe distance from emergency vehicles.
  • Lots of Practice: Practice your plan with your family at least twice a year. Get your family together for tonight and practice your "great escape." Remember: Never go back inside a burning building. Once out, stay out!

    If you live in an apartment building, here is some special information for you. It is important to know the evacuation plan for your building. Ask your building management or local fire department and know what to do before an alarm sounds. In some cases, the safest action when a fire alarm sounds may be to stay inside your apartment and protect yourself from smoke until the fire department arrives. This is called a "passive escape." If escaping is your best course of action, follow your escape plan unless there is immediate danger. Take your key with you in case you are forced to return to your apartment. Always use the stairs - never the elevator- in case of fire alarms. An elevator may stop at a floor where the fire is burning or it may malfunction and trap you.

    If you are unable to leave the building, use your passive escape.
  • Seal all doors and vents with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Open a window at the top and bottom so fresh air can enter. Be ready to close the window immediately if it draws smoke into the room.
  • Call the fire department and let them know that you are still inside the building.
  • Wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

Be patient. Rescuing all the occupants of a high-rise building can take a long time.

For images of Sparky over the years, visit the Sparky Web site.  

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing. and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

Sparky® and Sparky the Fire Dog® are registered trademarks of the NFPA

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275