Topic: Public Education

Skyscrapers

What to Know about Apartment and High-Rise Escape Planning

A major lesson of the 2022 Fire Prevention Week™ theme “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”™ is that today’s home fires burn hotter and faster than ever, leaving occupants with as little as two minutes or less to safely escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Planning and practicing Home Fire Escape with all members of the household and having working smoke alarms are two critical elements increasing residents’ chances of surviving a home fire.  For community members living in apartment and high-rise buildings, additional considerations may be needed for home fire safety planning. This can include communicating with the landlord/manager about the building’s safety features, practicing fire drills with neighbors, and knowing when to shelter in place rather than escape. The new Fire Safety in the City kit was developed to provide a simple, picture-filled way to teach about the unique considerations for home fire escape planning in multifamily housing. This kit includes information on escape, smoke alarms, and keeping children away from items that can burn or start fires, such as lighters and matches.  Help your community members navigate their apartment/high-rise living spaces by educating them on the importance of escape planning using these resources along with our High-Rise Apartment & Condominium Safety Tip Sheet and our new Older Adult Home Fire Escape video.  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.
A microphone

Two Major Home Fire Sprinkler Advances in Colorado

I’d like to send a loud shout-out to the town leaders of Avon and Erie, Colorado, for scoring huge wins by voting to include home fire sprinklers in their building codes. On December 13, both the Avon Town Council and the Erie Board of Trustees adopted building codes that require all new one- and two-family homes to be protected with installed home fire sprinklers. During the code process in both towns, there was a discussion about passing the code without the fire sprinkler requirement. In response, Erie’s Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Loflin pointed out that sprinkler systems might save multiple homes in an area that’s densely populated. Mayor Justin Brooks added that not having sprinklers would potentially have catastrophic consequences. They and others who spoke in favor prevailed and Erie’s requirement goes into effect beginning April 1, 2023. During a public hearing in Avon, Mick Woodworth, fire marshal from the Eagle River Fire Protection District, which serves the Town of Avon, was also an outspoken advocate. According to Vail Daily News, he said, “We’re community risk management, and if we want to manage the risk in our community, the No. 1 thing is fires — the way we manage that in a home is fire sprinklers.” Avon’s new code will be effective 30 days after approval. We all can learn from the victories in Avon and Erie. They were hard won because of the strong preparation and presentations by their local fire service representatives. Cost inevitably comes up in every hearing. A concern about fire sprinklers affecting affordable housing was raised in Erie. Jeff Webb, fire marshal for Mountain View Fire Rescue, which serves the town of Erie, said that when discussion centered on limiting the requirement to larger homes as a remedy, one trustee provided a very effective counterargument. It would be inequitable to provide safety measures to only those that could afford it. The town should act to make sure all residents purchasing new homes had the same safety features. Just because they were packed tighter to make them more affordable didn’t mean they had to give up safety, when in fact they were at higher risk because they were packed so tightly together. Another excellent strategy in Avon was addressing the role of sprinklers and firefighter health. This is an important point for any sprinkler code hearing and it is essential to have the fire service point of view represented. Besides occupant injury prevention, sprinklered homes protect responding firefighters by controlling fires automatically and keeping them small. These fires are not only less hazardous to fight structurally, but they also produce less toxic smoke. That directly mitigates the problem of responder exposure-caused cancer and other diseases. For more on this, read the FM Global report, which documented that fires in sprinklered homes produce 90 percent fewer carcinogens than in non-sprinkled homes. Discussions in both towns’ hearings drove home the need for better education of all decision makers. If your community does not yet have a building code requiring sprinklers in new homes, strengthen and widen your fire sprinkler outreach now, before future hearings. Reaching your local officials, planners, developers and builders in your community is essential. Above all, they need to know these facts: Today’s unprotected home fires can become deadly in as little as 2 minutes. Homes are where most fire deaths occur. Installed home fire sprinklers prevent injuries, save lives, protect the health and safety of responding firefighters and preserve property. And, most importantly, any home built to today’s codes that lacks installed fire sprinklers is substandard. You’ll be better armed if decision makers have these facts when they are making code decisions. You’ll have less opposition, and they can show their concern for their communities by keeping—or amending in—a new-construction sprinkler requirement. Be aware of your own power. In jurisdictions where home fire sprinklers aren’t in the current code and no update is forthcoming, the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and fire marshal should make themselves a regular and vocal presence in the new development pre-planning process to ensure home fire sprinklers are on the table and to include current data and educational content in planning discussions. Tap into our free resources. For helpful safety tip sheets, visit our tip sheet webpage. And for home fire sprinkler content, use HFSC’s free turnkey tools that make it easy for you to educate your target audiences. You can create a space on your website about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers. Upload videos and other content. Post cards to your social media accounts. Or simply link to HomeFireSprinkler.org – HFSC’s website is free of advertising and all content is free to you.  Bottom line? Home fire sprinklers won’t sell themselves. A vocal, persuasive, tireless leader and activist like you, who exercises your power to influence community decision makers to do the right thing, will protect your jurisdiction for generations to come.

Does CRR Planning Give You Analysis Paralysis? Let NFPA 1300 Help!

If you’re new to community risk reduction (CRR), putting together a plan can feel a bit overwhelming, and may even inhibit your efforts to move forward. But don’t let that happen!  NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, can help. It’s the industry standard for conducting community risk assessments (CRAs) and CRR plans and a valuable tool for CRR professionals, providing a comprehensive framework for assessing and reducing risks related to fire and other community emergencies. NFPA 1300 features a structured approach for identifying, assessing risks within a community—such as fire, natural disasters, and transportation—as well as identifying vulnerable populations and assessing their needs. By using this standard, CRR professionals can ensure that they are thoroughly and systematically evaluating these risks, rather than relying on intuition or incomplete information. Another important aspect of NFPA 1300 is that it promotes a community-centered approach to risk reduction. This means that it emphasizes the need to involve community members, stakeholders, and other partners in the risk assessment and planning process. By engaging members of the community in this way, CRR professionals can build buy-in for their plans and ensure that they are addressing the needs and concerns of the people who will be most affected by the risks. The standard also encourages all the key departments within a given community, including the fire department, emergency management department, law enforcement, and other agencies, to work together to collaboratively reduce the overall risk to the community. This also helps build resilience and prepare the community for any emergency. In addition, NFPA 1300 provides guidance on developing a community risk reduction plan. This includes setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies and actions, and assessing the effectiveness of the plan. By following these steps, CRR professionals can create plans that are both comprehensive and actionable, and that can be adapted over time, as needed. Print copies of NFPA 1300 are available for free, so order yours today! Also, remember that CRAIG 1300™ is an NFPA® digital dashboard that can help streamline and maximize your CRA and CRR efforts. Aligned to the industry standard on CRR, CRAIG 1300 aggregates important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the CRA process. Learn more about CRAIG 1300 by taking a demo of this dynamic, easy-to-use tool today!
People putting their hands together

CRR Week: An Opportunity to Set Your Strategy

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week is a grassroots effort that works to increase awareness of CRR. CRR is a data-driven process for identifying and prioritizing local risks and using that information to develop strategic plans that increase community safety. CRR Week takes place each January starting on Martin Luther King Day, a national day of service. During this annual campaign, many local fire departments, community agencies, and national organizations highlight their CRR efforts and help others learn about it. NFPA® contributes to the work done by CRR specialists by offering NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. This standard outlines the critical steps of the CRR process and provides guidance about important stakeholders and partners engaged in the process. NFPA also provides tools to support the CRR process, such as CRAIG 1300™, the Community Risk Assessment Insight Generator. CRAIG 1300 is a digital dashboard aligned to the industry standard on CRR that wrangles important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the community risk assessment (CRA) process. For CRR professionals looking to build their collegial networks, NFPA offers the CRR Kitchen Table, a monthly virtual gathering where CRR peers discuss hot topics in the CRR space, share tools and resources, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference in their communities. The first CRR Kitchen Table of 2023 will take place on Wednesday, January 18, at 2 p.m. ET. The focus of this Kitchen Table session will be on goal setting for CRR initiatives; representatives from a variety of CRR-focused organizations will be joining the discussion. If you’d like to participate in CRR Kitchen Table sessions, please email the NFPA CRR team at  to be added to the invitation list. Additional Kitchen Table events are set for March 1 and March 29, also at 2 p.m. ET. Reach out to the team with questions about the CRR process or the NFPA tools and resources to support CRR efforts.  

New year brings renewed energy to help educate communities about the benefits of home fire sprinklers

We count on the ball dropping in Times Square to usher in each New Year. That’s tradition. But we fire and life safety advocates must not drop the ball when it comes to who we need to reach to increase awareness about the benefits of installed home fire sprinklers. I hope you’ll join me in resolving to focus on outcome-driven outreach in 2023. Residents of virtually any community need to be reminded that every home is improved by a complete system of home fire safety. That includes prevention, early warning with working smoke alarms, having an escape plan and practicing it, and installed home fire sprinklers. We often talk about the first three things. But encouraging home fire sprinkler installation in new homes needs more attention. With sprinklers only required statewide in California, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., we can’t rely on widespread new-home sprinkler requirements to achieve this goal but there is more that can be done. In many markets, new single-family home construction is still strong, so reaching individuals who plan to build a new home before they lock in is important. Consumers need to understand the facts about home fires as well as the unrivaled benefits of installed home fire sprinklers. I talk to folks all the time who say their public outreach directly led to consumers deciding either to build a home with fire sprinklers or buy one that had sprinklers installed. That’s a classic example of an outcome-driven educational program and a good model for all of us. You know that today’s home fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes and that homes are where most fire fatalities occur. But don’t count on your local officials knowing that. Educating local decision-makers and others involved in new home construction can – and does –result in sprinklered homes, impacting a large number of people. So, make sure you’re reaching planners, building officials, builders, developers and water purveyors, too. They need your help to understand the impact of structure fires not just on residents, but on firefighter health and safety and the well-being of your entire community. Another strategy that pays dividends is local code advocacy. When jurisdictions are reviewing its residential code, lend your voice and expertise to the arguments in favor of not reducing safety by not taking out the home fire sprinkler requirement. Your role is valuable and unique, because many of those in positions of power may not understand why the code as developed includes home fire sprinklers. You can speak sincerely and with experience to the very real dangers of omitting sprinklers from local codes. What they don't know can hurt them. A code updated without fire sprinklers results in substandard housing, something your community’s decision makers don’t want on their shoulders. If fire sprinklers are not in the current code and no update is on the horizon, the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and fire marshal should make themselves a regular and vocal presence in the new development pre-planning process. This is an excellent opportunity to share data and educational content. Ahead of approvals, make a presentation about how home fire sprinklers can be used to offer local home developer incentives if the entire development is protected with installed fire sprinklers. I guarantee many sitting around that table with you simply don’t realize that these incentives lower developer costs and can actually increase their revenue. What developer is going to argue with that? Clearly, safer homes are a win-win for your community. But only when people understand the dangers and recognize the benefits. So, let’s not drop the ball on our local outreach. As always, NFPA is here to help. Tap into our free educational resources and get helpful safety tip sheets to share. And for home fire sprinkler content, use HFSC’s free turnkey tools that make it easy for you to educate your target audiences. You can also create a space on your website about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers. Upload videos and other content. Post cards to your social media accounts. Or simply link to HomeFireSprinkler.org – HFSC’s website is free of advertising and all content is free to you.  Whatever action you decide to take in the new year to increase awareness about the importance of home fire safety and the benefits of installed home fire sprinklers, let NFPA and HFSC help guide your way. Keep us updated throughout the year on your progress; don’t forget to share your thoughts, lessons learned, and your successes with us! By working together, we can help ensure safer communities in 2023 and for many years to come.
Christmas tree removal

One-third (33 percent) of Christmas Tree Fires Occur in January, Making Prompt Removal from Homes Critical to Safety

Saying goodbye to your Christmas tree may not be easy, but here’s a compelling reason to remove it as soon as possible: One-third (33 percent) of US home fires involving Christmas trees occur in January, on annual average. The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out; a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. That’s why NFPA® strongly encourages everyone to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season. The latest Christmas tree fires report from NFPA, which reflects annual averages between 2016 and 2020, shows that 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage. According to the report, fires that begin with Christmas trees are a very small but notable part of the US fire problem, considering that they are generally in use for a short time each year. Some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues, suggesting that people may burn the tree to dispose of it. With these concerns in mind, the US Forest Service offers this caution: “Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove! Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.” To safely dispose of a Christmas tree, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. Also, following are tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re still in good condition next season: Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk of shock or electrical fire. As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets, or cracked or bare wires. Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap them around a piece of cardboard. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the US Fire Administration.
1 2 ... 72

Latest Articles