Safety Source

Burn Survivor and His Brother Find Healing and Purpose After Tragic Home Fire

Josh Gropper was experiencing a day like any other and preparing for a final exam for law school in Boston, when his father called to tell him that Danny, his younger brother, had been badly injured in a house fire. While the cause of the fire has not been fully determined, at the time of the incident, there were no working smoke alarms in the building. Danny, Josh was told, had suffered severe injuries, with burns covering 78 percent of his body. Danny survived but his recovery would be slow and take many years. In the ensuing days after the fire, Josh moved closer to home in New York, changed schools, and dedicated himself to helping his younger brother heal. One of the first things Josh did was find a good lawyer to guide Danny and their family through the legal process. Josh says this experience made him realize how critical it is to have a quality, caring lawyer by his family’s side, someone who was a strong advocate for Danny and others like him whose lives have been tragically altered by severe injuries. Through this revelation, rather than continue to pursue his path in corporate law, Josh changed the course of his professional career and moved into personal injury law. His work and devotion to helping his brother live a full life led him to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors where Danny and their family found the ongoing peer support and resources they needed and a place to connect with others. It also opened the door for Josh to see how he could combine his knowledge and expertise in the law with his true passion for helping people in need. As Josh tells it, his entire adult life has been shaped by his and his brother’s experience. Today, through his law practice he has been able to support survivors and empower them to live their best life; his law firm has also become partners of the Phoenix Society’s mission and programs. Together with other fire and life safety advocates, Josh continues to educate people about effective burn prevention, burn care and equality, and raise awareness of fire safety, including the importance of having working smoke alarms in homes as a first line of defense in saving lives. Read Josh and Danny’s powerful story on the Phoenix Society’s website. Resources including tip sheets, videos, and related information is available on NFPA’s smoke alarms webpage.
Grilling steaks

Use our grilling safety tips to stay fire-safe this Memorial Day weekend and beyond

For many of us, Memorial Day weekend represents the unofficial kick-off to summer, often including lots of outdoor celebrations, cookouts, and grilling. As the holiday and summer months near, follow grilling information, safety tips, and recommendations from NFPA to help lower the risk of grilling fires and associated hazards. NFPA data shows that U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 10,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues. This includes 4,900 structure fires and 5,700 outside or unclassified fires, resulting in 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $149 million in direct property damage. The peak months for grilling fires are July (18 percent), June (15 percent), May (13 percent), and August (12 percent), though grilling fires occur year-round. Leading causes include failing to clean the grill, the heat source being located too close to combustible materials, leaving equipment unattended, and leaks or breaks in the grill or fuel source. On average, 19,700 patients went to emergency rooms each year because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half (9,500 or 48 percent) of the injuries were thermal burns, including both burns from fire and from contact with hot objects; 5,200 thermal burns were caused by contact or other non-fire events. Children under five accounted for an average of 2,000, or 39 percent, of the contact-type burns per year. These burns typically occurred when someone, often a child, bumped into, touched, or fell on the grill, grill part, or hot coals. NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for enjoying a fire-safe grilling season: For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead. (Watch NFPA’s video on how to check for leaks.) Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area. If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you have or are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container. Never leave your grill unattended when in use.

Fire and Life Safety Education in the Spotlight

NFPA’s premiere Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE) conference is an exciting and cost-effective way to connect (in person!) with fire & life safety content and professionals from a wide range of specialties.  Now in its sixth year, SOPE takes place Monday and Tuesday, June 6 & 7* at the 2022 NFPA Conference and Expo in Boston, Massachusetts. After two years of virtual SOPE conferencing, this in person event provides professional development and networking for fire and life safety (FLS), burn prevention, injury prevention, and public health educators. Registration for SOPE includes eight unique FLS related workshops: Steps to SafetyTM Prevent fire and falls at home Educational Messages in Schools:Best practices from EMAC Best Practices in Youth Fire Setting: Creating a “No Fear” Zone Spice up your Fire Prevention Week Toolkit The Impact of Drug Use on Fire Risk Using Virtual Reality to Communicate the Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers Applying Community Risk Assessment Data in Unexpected and Extraordinary Ways Fire Safety in the U.S. since 1980 SOPE participants also have access to the Expo floor, General Session, and admission to the Community Risk Assessment: Leading with Insights* workshop on June 8th.   A dedicated SOPE lounge area will be provided, offering registrants a place to network and grab a snack. Registration is still open for Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE) held in Boston’s historic Seaport District, a beautiful backdrop to energizing and informative learning for FLS professionals. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.

May is National Electrical Safety Month

Electricity helps make our lives easier, but its potential for shock and fire-related hazards is real and often underestimated. NFPA actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, an annual campaign sponsored by (ESFI), which raises awareness of potential home electrical hazards, the importance of electrical fire safety, and the safety of electrical and non-electrical workers, each May. This year’s theme, “Energy Resilience,” focuses on how emerging technology, including photovoltaics, electric vehicles, and energy storage systems, can provide energy resilience to homes and businesses and help communities adapt to these changes safely. With technological advancements in many areas of our lives, such as efficiency and green benefits associated with alternative energy sources, not everyone is aware of the fire and electrical hazards associated with them. National Electrical Safety Month helps educate people about these new technologies and the risks they pose to structures, occupants, and first responders. In fact, contact with electricity is a leading cause of home and workplace injuries and fatalities, and with new technologies comes added dangers. Take advantage of Electrical Safety Month to better educate communities about these risks and take the needed steps to prevent them. Homeowners can take these steps to reduce risk: Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician to ensure a home’s electrical system is installed to meet local codes and can accommodate additional loads imposed from charging electric vehicles. Use surge protective devices to help guard against voltage surges that may occur during power shut-offs and restarts, negatively impacting electronics and other sensitive equipment in the home office. Perform regular testing of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and breakers, based on manufacturers instruction, to ensure systems operate safety and efficiently. Resources for professionals: Free energy storage systems safety fact sheet Research, articles, tip sheets, and videos for high-risk hazards like energy storage systems and solar safety and photovoltaics systems Training, response guides, and videos for alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) NFPA offers a photovoltaic and energy storage systems training series In 2021, NFPA launched Faces of Fire/Electrical, a video awareness campaign focused on electrical hazards and created in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. The series worked to remind everyone about the importance of taking action – at home and in the workplace – to stop electrical incidents from happening. The videos and related resources such as fact sheets, tip sheets, and reports can be found at nfpa.org/facesoffire.  For more tips and resources including infographics, fact sheets, videos, and podcasts related to home electrical fire safety, visit the NFPA electrical safety webpage.
CRR session

Spotlight on Public Education to be held in Boston, June 6-7

Each year, the Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE) series brings together leaders in fire and safety education, providing numerous opportunities to learn, network with peers, and share ideas for better navigating roadblocks and challenges. As part of the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston, this year’s SOPE event will be held on June 6-7, featuring eight dynamic education sessions, as follows: Monday, June 6 Steps to Safety™: A Community Approach to Preventing Fire and Falls Among Older Adults Fire & Life Safety Educational Messaging in Schools: Best Practices from the NFPA Educational Messages Advisory Committee Best Practices in Youth Firesetting Education and Intervention—Creating a "No-Fear Zone" Tuesday, June 7 Spicing Up Your Fire Prevention Week™ Toolkit The Impact of Drugs on Fire Risk in General Population and Older Adults Using Virtual Reality to Communicate the Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers Applying Community Risk Assessment Data in Unexpected and Extraordinary Ways Fire Safety in the United States since 1980 Community Risk Assessment” Leading with Insights On Wednesday, SOPE attendees are also invited to attend a CRR workshop, Community Risk Assessment: Leading with Insights. Led by the NFPA Community Risk Reduction (CRR) team, the half-day workshop will guide participants through the CRA process outlined in NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. Participants will dig into the “HOW” and “WHY” of the CRA process, and have an opportunity to test drive, CRAIG 1300™, the NFPA CRA Insight Generator. This workshop will provide valuable information for CRR professionals who are both new to Community Risk Assessment and those who are already knee deep in the process. Each participant will leave the session with three customized critical actions to move local CRA efforts forward, a strong understanding of the range of data that support the CRA, and many new CRR colleagues to lean on for support even after you return home. We strongly encourage everyone to attend this year’s NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston, as it represents the first time in three years the association is hosting an in-person conference and will include special events that celebrate the 125th anniversary of NFPA. Register today!

Invest in Fire Safety this Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated annually April 22 across the globe to raise awareness of the health of our environment. This year’s theme is “Invest in our planet,” which got me thinking about the “Investment in Safety” cog of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, a framework that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. While Fire and Life Safety (FLS) education often focuses largely on the “Informed Public” cog, the work of the FLS educator includes helping people find the resources to make their homes safer, while teaching the importance of key fire and hazard prevention and response behaviors. Examples of this include smoke alarm installation programs, connecting older adults with community resources to install grab bars in the bathroom, and promoting the value of home fire sprinklers. Making investments in and around the home is also critical to protecting people and homes from wildfires, and includes a focus on the first five feet of what is called the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), the area around a home/structure which is most vulnerable to embers from wildfires. Research around home destruction vs. home survival in wildfires point to embers and small flames as the main way homes ignite in wildfires. Embers are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind and can cause spot fires and ignite homes, debris, and other objects. NFPA’s How to Prepare your Home for Wildfires fact sheet provides residents with practical advice and Sparky the Fire Dog’s® Earth Smarts! offers kids an opportunity to participate.  Health and safety observances such as Earth Day are a great way to raise awareness and lead people to action. The timing of Earth Day allows for a natural flow into Wildfire Community Preparedness Day May 7, to continue the focus on the home and neighborhood environment to protect people, homes, and whole communities from the devastation of wildfires. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.
Chelsea Tegtmeier

South Metro Fire Rescue presents tactics and strategies for CRR among older adults

Chelsea Tegtmeier, a CRR specialist with South Metro Fire Rescue in Colorado, recently shared an overview of her team’s CRR efforts during a “Kitchen Table” meeting - a monthly CRR forum hosted by NFPA. During her presentation, Tegtmeier outlined the strategies she and her team used to identify the most vulnerable populations within their district and to create a plan that effectively addressed the leading safety risks among them. To begin, Tegtmeier and her team conducted a data-driven risk assessment of the entire district, which includes 30 fire stations covering almost 600,000 citizens. Their goal was to ensure their safety interventions were having an impact on true risks faced by the community. Using various resources, including NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, they identified four community risk priorities through the CRA process: Wildfire Residential fires Motor vehicle crashes Older adult injuries After prioritizing risks, Tegtmeier’s team focused on older adults and looked to the data to identify specific hazards, neighborhoods, and living situations correlated to risks. The data for this population showed that 40% of EMS calls to South Metro Fire Rescue were from people ages 65 and older. Twenty-five percent (25%) of those calls were the result of falls, with 66% of those calls from older adults aging in place (at home), and 22% in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In addition, one in four fire fatalities was among the same age group. Considering a host of root causes that impact risk among older adults - poverty, isolation, mobility, resources, housing quality, language, and disability – Tegtmeier and her team developed a plan to support older adults in the community. This included establishing goals, developing strategies, and identifying audiences in group facilities and those who were aging in place. In addition, because community partners played a key role in the South Metro CRR initiative, they identified who else in the community was addressing fall prevention, such as the health department, local agencies on aging, hospitals, and volunteer groups. From there, they developed a collaborative approach to implement strategies framed by the 5 E’s of CRR. Some of the tactics include: Creating resources (i.e., videos) to better educate older adults on how to safely get up from falls if they haven’t incurred an injury and offering monthly classes to address fall prevention, partnering with the fire marshal’s office to educate communities on life safety code requirements, including evacuation requirements and fire drills educating internal staff about resources available for the community to ensure that groups and individuals are directed accordingly Tegtmeier also highlighted factors that have helped implement these and associated plans, such as preparing a timeline with milestones; assigning tasks and responsibilities; communicating goals and expectations; and regularly monitoring progress. While the team analyzes their efforts on a quarterly basis to measure and monitor goals, Tegtmeier notes that things pop up all the time that they didn’t expect. In the end, she said they follow this motto: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.” South Metro Fire Rescue’s efforts showcase the essential elements of an impactful community risk reduction (CRR) plan and the value of conducting a community risk assessment (CRA) to pinpoint who in the community most often needs emergency assistance and why. If you would like to join the NFPA CRR Kitchen Table sessions and/or view Chelsea Tegtmeier’s full presentation, please contact CRR@nfpa.org Last but not least, if you’re ready to start your own data-driven CRA, learn about CRAIG 1300™! Created specifically for fire departments and public safety advocates, CRAIG 1300 is a digital data tool that can help easily access and analyze the information you need to understand when and where leading safety risks exist in your community.
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