Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on September 4, 2018.



FPW 2018 urges three steps to safety

Fire Prevention Week (FPW), the nation’s longest-running public health campaign, starts October 7. This year’s theme highlights three steps to safety: look, listen, and learn. (For more, see Outreach on page 22.)

Look for places a fire could start, listen for the sound of the smoke alarm, and learn two ways out of every room and make sure doors and windows leading outside are open and free of clutter, the campaign says. The 2018 FPW theme further urges people to “Be aware—fire can happen anywhere.” While the tips apply to any location, they’re especially pertinent in homes, where people are more likely to die in a fire today than they were decades ago.

“People take safety for granted and are not aware of the risk of fire,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, said in a statement about FPW 2018. “Paying attention to your surroundings, looking for available exits in the event of a fire or other emergency, and taking the smoke alarm seriously if it sounds can make a potentially life-saving difference in a fire or other emergency situation.”

Learn more online.

Firefighter cancer registry becomes law

In July, a federal law was passed requiring the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a voluntary registry to collect data on firefighters in the U.S., which will be made available to the public and hopefully shed light on the incidence of cancer in the fire service.

“The registry must be used to improve monitoring of cancer among firefighters and to collect and publish epidemiological information,” the law reads. “The CDC should seek to include specified information in the registry, including the number and type of fire incidents attended by an individual. To collect information for the registry, the CDC must enable the registry to connect to state-based cancer registries. The CDC must also develop a strategy to encourage participation in the registry, develop guidance for states and firefighting agencies regarding the registry, and seek feedback on the registry from non-federal experts.”

Cancer has in recent years become a major concern for the fire service. NFPA Journal covered the topic in its award-winning May/June 2017 cover story, “Facing Cancer,”.

Fire protection district files opioid lawsuit in Illinois state court

Illinois’ Orland Park Fire Protection District joined 13 other Illinois municipalities in July to file a lawsuit in state court against drug manufacturers and distributors, along with three doctors in the state who allegedly ran a “pill mill.” The lawsuit is yet another in a string of suits filed in the wake of the nation’s continuing opioid crisis.

But a lawyer representing Orland Park called this lawsuit in particular “bold” and unique, because it was filed in state court rather than in federal court, where the bulk of opioid- related suits in the United States have been filed. “Filing in federal court would mean joining the massive nationwide opioid multidistrict litigation based in Ohio, and plaintiffs in this litigation believe they will be better served by having an Illinois court adjudicate their claims under Illinois law, taking into account their specific harms,” attorney Joshua Greenberg wrote in an email to NFPA Journal. Filing in state court will lead to a faster and “all-around better” resolution, he said.

The impact of the nation’s opioid crisis on first responders was the topic of NFPA Journal’s award-winning January/February 2017 cover story, “Chasing A Killer,”.

NFPA hires new public education director

NFPA has a new leader at the helm of its Public Education Division, which is responsible for such efforts as the annual Fire Prevention Week campaign and the Firewise USA® program.

Andrea Vastis joined the NFPA staff in July, after most recently working for CVS Health, where she oversaw product development and promoted the role of the pharmacist in the health care field. Before that, Vastis held positions at Rhode Island College, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. She holds a master’s degree in public health from Boston University.

“NFPA is the go-to authority for fire and life safety educational content, tools, and resources,” Vastis said in a statement. “I am excited to work with the public education and wildfire teams, and organizations that share NFPA’s mission so that we can collectively save lives and reduce loss. My primary goal is to engage, inform, and activate the public.”

ANGELO VERZONI is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: GETTY IMAGES