2022: A Year of Challenges and Progress in Fire Safety
With the holiday season upon us and we near the end of the year, I can’t help but think about the tragedies that ushered us into 2022. The tragic fires in Philadelphia and the Bronx in early January, coupled with the barrage of wildfires, made national headlines. Throughout the year, there were many other incidents that received less mass attention yet take their tolls. Each and every one underscore the safety challenges we face in our communities and our calls to action. Reflecting on the year, 2022 was also a year of events that were central to our efforts to answer those calls and pave the way forward. They reflect the core of what NFPA does so well – bring together a wide range of people and organizations to solve problems.
Throughout the year, there was also no shortage of insightful innovation. This particularly holds true for those who attended the Outthink Wildfire™ summit in May. This two-day event in Sacramento, California brought together more than 50 representatives from across the US to focus on the complex problem of wildfire risk to existing properties and communities. Participants collaboratively worked to identify the most critically important areas needing national focus and the recommendations for addressing them. A recently released summit report summarizes next steps that dozens of experts agree will help overcome the challenges the nation faces in ending wildfire disasters. I’m pleased to say work is already underway on these tasks.
We saw first-hand at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in June what happens when fire, life, and electrical safety professionals gather in person. Nearly 7,000 of them, including more than 280 exhibitors attended, all engaging in thought-provoking discussions, sharing viewpoints, solutions, and services with one another. After a bit of a hiatus from in-person meetings, it was inspiring to hear participants agreed, telling me they came away from this event with a renewed sense of purpose and energy and returned to their communities armed with the kind of information and knowledge they needed to help them succeed.
The growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes and e-scooters prompted the FDNY Foundation, UL, and NFPA to co-sponsor a symposium in September to address these challenges. Visual demonstrations highlight the need for more public education associated with these devices and how people can protect themselves and their property. In response, NFPA launched an educational campaign, creating free resources for stakeholders to use and share with consumers. This project is a real-life example of how new technologies not only demand we be vigilant in how we respond to these emerging issues but how we collectively address risk to first responders, workers, and the public.
In October, NFPA celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week™. The century milestone of the longest running public health observance in the country takes on new urgency for prevention as today’s fire problem lays squarely in homes. According to NFPA research, you are more likely to die in a home fire now than you were in 1980 driven by modern construction and contents in houses. Together with thousands of fire departments, safety advocates, and business groups, NFPA promoted this year’s theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.™,” reinforcing the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. Through hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity, the campaign came to life and actively engaged thousands of communities in home fire safety and prevention.
As part of the 100th anniversary of FPW recognition, we also joined with the US Fire Administration and the entire fire service community for the first of its kind US Fire Administration Fire Prevention and Control Summit. Undoubtedly, this historic event will continue to be a catalyst for progress against the most pressing fire issues of the times.
With the calendar turning to the new year, I’m counting on all of you to harness the energy and excitement that was evident at all these events. We must turn great insights into great action. We must continue to work together to connect the dots on safety. Together is how we can further our work to help save lives and reduce loss.
Thank you for the significant role you play by joining with us to make the world safer from fire and other hazards. On behalf of NFPA, I wish you and your family a safe holiday season and a happy new year.