AUTHOR: Richard Campbell

Playing With Fire

Two new NFPA reports separately examine fires in structures and those in non-structure fire incidents caused by playing with fire in 2014-2018. The report on structure fires finds that municipal fire departments responded to an estimated average of 8,100 structure fires each year in 2014-2018. that were caused by playing with fire. These fires caused an estimated 55 civilian deaths, 450 civilian injuries, and $112 million in direct property damage each year.  More than three in five structure fires caused by playing with fire occurred in residential properties, primarily in homes. Over one-third of the home fires originated in a bedroom and over half of these fires were caused by playing with a lighter.  Children under ten years of age were the fires setters in four of five home structure fires caused by playing with fire. Fortunately, home structure fires and losses have declined substantially over the past three decades, in large part due to a safety standard requiring disposable cigarette lighters to be resistant to operation by children since becoming effective in 1994. Playing with fire also caused an estimated 3,140 fires each year in structures other than homes, resulting in an average of five civilian deaths 50 civilian injuries, and $30 million in direct property damage each year.  As with home fires, the vast majority of the fires caused were started by children. However, over half of fire setters were in the older age group of 11 to 17 years, a much higher share than was the case for home fires.  Non-structure fires include outside or unclassified fires, outside trash or rubbish fires, and vehicle fires. The report on non-structure fires caused by fire play finds that there were a higher number of these incidents than those involving structures, but they result in substantially fewer casualties and property damage. According to the report, municipal fire departments to an estimated annual average of 22,350 non-structure fires caused by playing with fire each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in an estimated 58 civilian injuries and $62 million in direct property damage each year. Children were again the primary fire setters of non-structure fires, but they tended to be older that those who caused fires in structures through fire play. To download the full reports please visit our page, and for additional safety resources please visit our page here.
A fireplace in a home

Despite improvement, home fires involving heating equipment remain a concern

A newly-released NFPA report estimates that home heating equipment was responsible for just over 48,500 home fires each year between 2014 and 2018, and that these fires caused an estimated 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage each year. Home fires caused by heating equipment most often involved space heaters, which accounted for just over two in five fires, as well as four in five deaths and injuries and more than half of the direct property damage. Fireplaces or chimneys, responsible for approximately three in ten fires caused by heating equipment, were the second leading cause of home heating equipment fires.  The fires caused by fireplaces or chimneys led to proportionately fewer deaths or injuries but were responsible for nearly one-quarter of the direct property damage. Central heating systems and water heaters each accounted for approximately one in ten fires caused by heating equipment, but smaller shares of deaths, injuries, and direct property damage. Attention to fire safety with heating equipment is a real concern. Heating equipment was responsible for one in seven home structure fires and one-fifth of home fire fatalities in 2014-2018. The NFPA report nevertheless finds some encouraging news on the overall trends for heating equipment fires. The estimated annual number of home heating equipment fires has fallen from over 70,000 fires each year between 2000 and 2003 to fewer than 50,000 since 2015, with a new low point of 43,620 estimated fires in 2017. Still, there is clearly more work to be done to reduce the burden of home heating fires. NFPA identifies a number of home safety practices that can help to prevent fires caused by heating equipment. These include: Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. Maintain a three-foot “kid-free zone” around home fires and space heaters. Never use your oven to heat your home. Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, and central heating equipment according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year by a qualified professional. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed. Always use the appropriate type of fuel, as specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters. Ensure that the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop embers from flying into the room. Make sure that ashes are cool before placing them in a bin for removal. More information on home heating equipment safety practices is available here. Learn more and download the full report, "Home Heating Fires."
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NIOSH Bringing More Attention to Fentanyl Exposure and First Responders

There is increasing concern in public safety and public health communities about the potential exposure of first responders to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug with health effects ranging from drowsiness to respiratory failure.   Fentanyl can be taken into the body through different routes, including inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption, depending on the situation and the form of drug.  Because of the hazards of fentanyl and its serious health concerns, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed recommendations for safe work practices and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment for activities in which fentanyl or its analogs may be present. In a recent blog, NIOSH provides more details on fentanyl and exposure risks for first responders and provides links to its interim recommendations for law enforcement when dealing with fentanyl. The NIOSH blog also encourages the first responder community to offer comments related to fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has also prepared a briefing guide for first responders.NFPA has seen a flurry of activity from first responders regarding exposure to fentanyl and carfentanil, and posted a blog warning about the health and safety risks to first responders when the NIOSH recommendations first came out. While NFPA has no official guidance to offer at this time, several documents or standards may be useful for first responders in taking precautionary measures.  These include: nfpa.org/472 - Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents nfpa.org/473 - Standard for Competencies for EMS Personnel Responding to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents nfpa.org/1500 - Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program nfpa.org/1989 - Standard on Breathing Air Quality for Emergency Services Respiratory Protection nfpa.org/1999 - Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical OperationsEarlier this year, NFPA Journal® also reported on first responders grappling with the opioid crisis in their cover story "Chasing a Killer."
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NIOSH Bringing More Attention to Fentanyl Exposure and First Responders

There is increasing concern in public safety and public health communities about the potential exposure of first responders to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug with health effects ranging from drowsiness to respiratory failure.   Fentanyl can be taken into the body through different routes, including inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption, depending on the situation and the form of drug.  Because of the hazards of fentanyl and its serious health concerns, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed recommendations for safe work practices and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment for activities in which fentanyl or its analogs may be present. In a recent blog, NIOSH provides more details on fentanyl and exposure risks for first responders and provides links to its interim recommendations for law enforcement when dealing with fentanyl. The NIOSH blog also encourages the first responder community to offer comments related to fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has also prepared a briefing guide for first responders.NFPA has seen a flurry of activity from first responders regarding exposure to fentanyl and carfentanil, and posted a blog warning about the health and safety risks to first responders when the NIOSH recommendations first came out. While NFPA has no official guidance to offer at this time, several documents or standards may be useful for first responders in taking precautionary measures.  These include: nfpa.org/472 - Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents nfpa.org/473 - Standard for Competencies for EMS Personnel Responding to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents nfpa.org/1500 - Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program nfpa.org/1989 - Standard on Breathing Air Quality for Emergency Services Respiratory Protection nfpa.org/1999 - Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical OperationsEarlier this year, NFPA Journal® also reported on first responders grappling with the opioid crisis in their cover story "Chasing a Killer."

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