AUTHOR: Susan McKelvey

“Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™” is the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2022

“Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™” has been announced as the theme for Fire Prevention Week™, October 9-15, reinforcing the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. In addition, this October represents the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, the nation’s longest-running public health observance on record. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign capitalizes on its milestone anniversary, celebrating all we’ve accomplished in reducing the public’s risk to fire over the past hundred years. At the same time, the theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape,” addresses challenges that remain. According to NFPA data, home — the place people feel safest from fire — is actually where they are at greatest risk, with three-quarters (74 percent) of all US fire deaths occurring in homes. When a home fire does occur, it’s more likely to be serious; people are more likely to die in a home fire today than they were in 1980. A contributing factor is that today’s homes burn faster and hotter than they used to, minimizing the amount of time they have to escape safely. In a typical home fire, people may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to get out from the time the smoke alarms sounds. “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape” promotes potentially life-saving messages that can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly ensures that everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm sounds and uses that time wisely. Following are key messages behind this year’s “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape” theme: Make sure your home escape plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities. Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily. Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet. Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night. To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, its 100th anniversary, and this year’s theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape,” visit

E. Brené Duggins is named 2022 Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year

Congratulations to E. Brené Duggins, fire prevention coordinator/training captain at Holly Grove Fire Department in Lexington, North Carolina, for being named the winner of the 2022 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award. “Fire safety education remains a critical community need,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “With 20 years as a volunteer in the fire service, Duggins has committed herself to teaching her community to lead safer lives. She has also consistently supported her peers in addressing fire safety issues through the use of sound educational practices and today’s technologies.” Each year, NFPA confers the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award on a dedicated educator who works for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office in the U.S. or Canada and uses NFPA’s materials in consistent, creative ways. The recipient demonstrates excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community to meet their evolving fire safety needs. Duggins is being awarded a $1,000 honorarium, travel to the 2022 NFPA Conference & Expo, and an engraved Sparky statuette. The Holly Grove Fire Department will also receive a $1,000 donation to support public education activities. During her 20 years as a volunteer in the fire service, Duggins has shared her passion for technology and education not only in the state of North Carolina, but across the U.S. and Canada, teaching the public as well as fire service personnel how to enhance their own programs through the integration of technology. Furthering her commitment, Duggins has started “Ms. D’s Virtual PD”, a virtual professional development training program that combines live training sessions and on-demand training opportunities for public school and fire service personnel. She is well-regarded among her fire and life safety education peers for her dedication to not only serving her community, but helping others do the same. In addition, she is the chair of the NC Eastern Region Fire and Life Safety Educator Association and the second vice chair of the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Educator Association State Council. Duggins officially received recognition for her award at the NFPA Stars at Night gala on Sunday, June 5. The event honors the brightest stars in fire and life safety.

Women in STEM panel discussion provides support and inspiration for women pursuing their professional goals

At the Women in STEM education session, a panel of female leaders from various fire and life safety organizations discussed the influence women currently have on the industry and the future anticipated changes for women in the fire safety world. The featured panelists included Chief Trisha Wolford, fire chief, Anne Arundel County FD; Tonya Hoover, deputy fire administrator, USFA; Danielle Antonellis, founder & executive director, Kindling; and Diana Jones, senior director of technical programs and development, International Safety Equipment Association. Jones made a special presentation performing a re-enactment of Frances Perkins, who served as a factory inspector in New York when the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire broke out. Perkins went on to become the U.S. secretary of labor from 1933-1945, fiercely advocating for safer working conditions and employee protections. From there, the panelists answered attendees’ questions, providing insights and perspectives from their own experiences over the years, along with their approach to facing challenges and struggles. Key messages included the importance of recognizing your vulnerabilities and embracing rather than fighting them. “We all go through struggles to get where we want to be,” said Hoover. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’” The presenters also encouraged women to not assume that when someone treats them poorly it’s because they’re a woman. “It could be one of many reasons,” said Wolford. “And let’s face it, some people are just jerks!” Hoover’s advice was to deal with someone in the moment, then move on and let it go. The presenters also encouraged women in the fire service not to limit themselves. Determine what your unique skill set is and where you can bring the greatest good. When asked what can be done to attract women into executive officer positions, Wolford said she makes sure the women on her staff have the support to reach whatever role they want. Being a mother, for example, should not set limits on professional opportunities. The honesty and straight-forwardness of the panels’ insights and perspectives made for an inspiring event that hopefully encourages more women to confidently pursue their professional goals and passions in the world of fire and life safety.

Electric vehicle safety training at NFPA C&E helps firefighters safely mitigate EV incidents

While electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow in popularity on our roadways, with dozens of new models coming out each year, many fire departments remain untrained in knowing how to safely and effectively handle EV incidents. To help first responders better understand the risks associated with EV incidents and how to safely handle them, an Electric Vehicles Safety Training was hosted today by Jason Emory with the Waterbury, CT Fire Department at the NFPA Conference & Expo® in Boston. Firefighters received essential training and learned tactical considerations needed to safely respond to these types of incidents. Topics covered during the two-hour session included an introduction to electric EVs, scene size-up and management, vehicle identification, immobilization, high voltage system shutdown methods, occupant rescue, and post-incident recovery and disposal considerations. If you weren’t able to attend today’s EV training, don’t despair! The NFPA Electric Vehicle Safety training program is available online. In addition, NFPA recently received a grant from General Motors so that volunteer and under-served fire departments can access the online training for free for one year, as volunteer and underserved departments often don’t have the resources to receive the needed training. About two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. fire departments are served by part-time or volunteer firefighters, according to NFPA data. NFPA offers a wealth of resources on electric vehicle safety and training. For more information, visit

CRR workshop guides participants through community risk assessment (CRA) process

CRR workshop was held at the NFPA Conference & Expo®  (C&E) today, guiding participants through the community risk assessment (CRA) process. The half-day program, which highlighted proven strategies for moving local CRA efforts forward, was led by Karen Berard-Reed, a senior strategist leading the community risk reduction (CRR) initiative at NFPA, and Chelsea Rubadou, an NFPA engineer who serves as a staff liaison and SME for standards dedicated to CRR, data analysis and fire prevention programs. Together, Berard-Reed and Rubadou discussed the true value of using data to answer the “who, what, when and why” of leading risks within a given community. From there, fire departments can create a a community risk reduction (CRR) plan that serves as a roadmap for effectively addressing those safety issues. Some workshop attendees noted that efforts to capture community data have felt overwhelming, limiting their ability to move forward. Berard-Reed and Rubadou recognized that this and similar challenges can curtail CRA efforts. Both shared strategies for working through them, while attendees also shared their experiences in breaking through roadblocks. Attendees also had ample opportunities to break into smaller groups to brainstorm and collaborate on a host of issues. These lively conversations were shared with and discussed among all workshop attendees. These conversations and interactions fostered new connections along with opportunities to continue learning from one another after the conference. Visit to learn more about CRA, CRR, NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, and CRAIG 1300™, a community risk assessment (CRA) dashboard that helps fire departments and safety officials collect community data, enabling them to identify, assess and share local demographic, geographic and economic needs.

NFPA hosts Stars at Night awards gala in Boston, celebrating recipients in eight distinct award categories

In coordination with the 2022 NFPA Conference & Expo® (C&E®), the NFPA Stars at Night awards gala was hosted in Boston yesterday evening, with individuals in eight distinct award categories receiving the highest recognitions bestowed by NFPA. The last time NFPA hosted C&E in-person was 2019. As a result, the awards ceremony honored not only the 2022 award recipients, but those from the past two years.   All the individuals honored personify the NFPA mission of reducing loss from fire, electrical and other hazards. Their career-long work has made the world a safer place through broad, far-reaching contributions rooted in curiosity, bold visions, dedication, and dogged determination. Their work represents the very essence of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem® – the eight-component system that serves as a framework for keeping people and property safe from persistent challenges and emerging issues. NFPA President Jim Pauley The award recipients for each of the honors bestowed last night were presented by Jim Pauley, NFPA CEO and president, and Amy Acton, CEO of The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and chair of the NFPA Board of Directors, as follows: Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year E. Brené Duggins, fire prevention coordinator/training captain at Holly Grove Fire Department in Lexington North Carolina - 2022 Lauri Volkert, fire inspector for the Windsor Connecticut Fire Marshal’s Office - 2021 Maria Bostian of the Kannapolis Fire Department in North Carolina - 2020 From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: E. Brené Duggins, Lauri Volkert, and Maria Bostian  Research Foundation Medal John Farley, CDR (ret), director of fire test operations at the Naval Research Laboratory’s Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability – 2020 Jerry Back, senior fire protection engineer at Jensen Hughes – 2020 Negar Elhami-Khorasani, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo – 2019 Thomas Gernay, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, 2019 From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: John Farley and Jerry Back and Thomas Gernay Richard G. Biermann Award Michael Johnston, executive director of codes, standards, and safety at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) - 2022 The Harry C. Bigglestone award Dr. M.Z. Naser, tenure-track assistant professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and member of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute for Science and Engineering (AIRISE) at Clemson University - 2022 Nico de Koker (PhD, BScEng, BSc) a computational physicist and structural engineer and associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Stellenbosch University - 2021 Jim McLennan, adjunct professor, school of psychology and public health, La Trobe University - 2020 From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Michael Johnston and Dr. M.Z. Naser Standards Medal Kerry Bell – 2022 Peter Willse – 2020   From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Kerry Bell and Peter Willse James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal Jim Ford, former chief officer of Scottsdale, AZ and current director of CRR for Cave Creek, AZ - 2022 Gary Keith, retired vice president of engineering standards for FM Global and former vice president of field operations for NFPA - 2021 Paul D. Martin, retired Deputy State Fire Administrator, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Jim Ford, Gary Keith, and Paul D. Martin Paul C. Lamb Award Keith Williams, retired president and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and UL LLC - 2022 Philip J. DiNenno Prize Electrical Shock Hazard Protection by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection - 2022 Jack Wells, who served as the primary associate at Pass and Seymour, and Henry Zylstra, who was the primary engineering lead at Schneider Electric/Square D., served as legacy presenters for the award, as the innovators of GFCI technology are no longer living.  From left: Keith Williams and Jack Wells
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