AUTHOR: Susan McKelvey

This Year’s Fire Prevention Week, October 9–15, Is More Important than Ever

At its core, Fire Prevention Week™ is a grassroots campaign that thousands of fire departments and safety advocates bring to life in their communities each year, delivering basic but critical home fire safety messages that better educate the public about home fire risks and how to prevent them. NFPA® statistics show a steady decline in the number of fires occurring in US homes over the past few decades. The work done in support of Fire Prevention Week each year has no doubt played a part in this progress. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the nation’s home fire death rate, which has stagnated in recent years. In fact, you’re more likely to die in a home fire today than you were in 1980. These numbers tell us that while we’ve made great strides in teaching people how to prevent home fires from happening, there’s still more work to do when it comes to educating the public about the speed at which fires grow and spread, the small window of time they have to escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds, and how to use that time wisely to get out as quickly and safely as possible. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week this October 9–15 and all that has been accomplished in reducing the fire problem over the past century, this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape™,” addresses pressing challenges that remain. With the campaign just around the corner, we encourage all fire departments and safety advocates to take full advantage of the materials and resources available on our Fire Prevention Week website at www.firepreventionweek.org. A previous blog I wrote highlights the many ways the campaign can be promoted locally, whether it’s posting social media cards on your social platforms, hosting community events, sending a news release to local news outlets, or teaching age-appropriate lesson plans in the classroom—to name just a few. And there’s still time to do it! Much of this outreach can be completed quickly and easily. Overall, the public needs to learn about the value of home escape planning and practice more than ever. Fire Prevention Week presents an ideal opportunity to share these critical messages. Doing all we can to make sure as many people as possible hear and benefit from them can truly help increase their safety from fire.

Use our FREE Fire Prevention Week (FPW) toolkit to make this October a true success in your community!

With Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW™), October 9-15, just over two months away, now is the time to plan for successfully launching the campaign in your community. We have everything you need to put your plans into action. From social media cards, sample news releases, and safety tips sheets to lesson plans, videos and much more, our FPW materials can help you reach your entire community with age-appropriate messages that support this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” Here's a sampling of the resources available from our FPW toolkit: Social media cards: Use our social media cards to promote home escape planning and practice messages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Available in English and Spanish, all cards have been properly sized for the associated platforms. FPW logos: The official FPW logo highlighting this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” is available in multiple sizes and formats; English and Spanish versions are available. Lessons and activities: A home fire escape grid, fire safety action plan, and a smoke alarm safety calendar are just a few of the many educational activities and resources for all ages that you can download and share. Media and communications resources: Ready-to-use press releases, fundraising letters and proclamations can help promote FPW in your community with “fill-in-the-blank” areas to customize information for your community. Ideas and recommendations: If you’re not sure about how to implement FPW in your community, check out our “Out of the Box” section, which offers a host of events, projects, and programs to get your FPW campaign up and running. Of course, this is just a small sampling of all the resources available at www.fpw.org. Visit the site to see everything we offer to help support your FPW efforts. Also, the site is updated periodically, so make sure to check it regularly for new resources and information! Last but not least, the FPW catalog features a wide range of materials you can purchase to support your efforts this October. Products like brochures, banners, and stickers - to name just a few - make it easy to promote and distribute time-tested, age-appropriate information throughout your community.
Fireworks

Stay safe this July 4: Leave fireworks to the professionals

As July 4 weekend fast-approaches, NFPA urges the public to only attend public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals and to avoid use of consumer fireworks, which can cause serious injury and damage due to their unpredictability. The importance of this message is underscored by a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showing a significant upward trend in fireworks-related injuries. Between 2006 and 2021, U.S. fireworks injuries increased by 25%, according to CPSC estimates. Last year, at least nine people died and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks. According to the CPSC report, an estimated 1,500 emergency department-treated injuries were associated with firecrackers and 1,100 involved sparklers in 2021. The parts of the body most often injured by fireworks were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent of injuries) along with head, face, and ears (an estimated 21 percent). Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries. In terms of fireworks-related fires, NFPA’s latest statistics show that an estimated 19,500 fires in the US were started by fireworks in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths and 46 injuries to civilians and $105 million in property damage. On annual average, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of fireworks fires from 2014-18 occurred on July 4; approximately half (49 percent) of all fires reported on that day were caused by fireworks. Along with the preventable risks that fireworks pose to consumers, the injuries and damage they incur also unnecessarily tax responding fire departments, as well emergency room workers, who are called upon to address these incidents. As first and second responders continue to be responsible for an ever-expanding scope of emergencies, let’s all do our part to lighten their load this July 4, keeping ourselves and others safe in the process. Leave fireworks to the professionals and have a safe, festive holiday. For more facts and information about fireworks, visit NFPA’s fireworks page.

“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 www.nfpa.org/fpw.

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.
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