Fire Prevention Week Is the Perfect Time to Introduce, or Increase, Home Fire Sprinkler Messages
As fire departments across the United States and Canada recognize the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW™) this month, let’s all reflect on the accomplishments of our work educating our communities on the importance of home fire safety. We have made important gains and have much to celebrate.
But in virtually every jurisdiction, we also face critical challenges as we strive to prevent injury and deaths. Case in point: while the number of home fires has decreased in recent years, when home fires occur today, they are deadlier. And despite many advances that make our cities and towns safer, a person today is more likely to die in a home fire than they were in 1980.
This year’s FPW theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape™,” is intended to help address these challenges. The theme inspires us to educate about the simple but important actions residents can take to keep themselves and those around them safer from home fires. Preparation and planning are the heart of this year’s focus. It’s something we all can do. And no matter the kind, size or built-in protection, every household needs a home fire escape plan and practice using it.
Because of that, Fire Prevention Week is the perfect opportunity to introduce or increase your messaging about the life-saving benefits of installed home fire sprinklers as part of your outreach. This is especially true if there are new housing starts and plans for new-home developments in your area.
Today’s unsprinklered homes burn faster than ever, with residents having as little as 2 minutes to safely escape from the time the smoke alarm signals. In contrast, installed fire sprinklers are designed to allow 10 minutes for people to escape. That’s vital protection that prevents injuries and saves lives.
Are you new to home fire sprinkler messaging? A good place to start is by informing your community that sprinklers are an option when building a new home —but in most communities, your audience will need to ask for them. Another good lead-in is myth busting. The most common myth has always been that all sprinklers go off at once (thanks, Hollywood). You can stop that myth by reinforcing the fact that only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates to control the fire. And that sprinkler’s fast activation provides time for a safe escape.
It’s important to respond to damaging myths because they tend to get more oxygen than the facts. Also, we know from decades of experience that education really works. When the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) surveyed more than 2000 adults*, 80 percent of millennials who had learned how sprinklers actually work said they would prefer to buy a home protected with sprinklers. Understanding millennials’ reactions to sprinkler education is important information to have because they are the age group that makes up the largest share of today’s homebuyers.
So, during your FPW activities, I hope you’ll remember to include home fire sprinkler messages. Especially when you have the opportunity to talk to millennials and others who plan to build new homes. HFSC has free turnkey resources that make it easy for you, whether you want to upload content to your department website, post ready-made cards to your social media accounts, or download other educational tools, such as videos, artwork, and reproducible safety sheets. Tap into these and much more at HomeFireSprinkler.org and encourage your community to explore the website themselves.
Every new home should be built with a complete system of home fire safety: early warning with working smoke alarms, a well-planned and practiced escape plan, and installed home fire sprinklers. Fire won’t wait, plan your escape.
*October 2020 Opinium survey of 2000 US adults