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September 24, 2014 Previous day Next day

Wildfire blog
Nearly $30 million worth of property was destroyed, including 46 residential homes, in the wildfires that struck San Diego County, California, last May. As bad as it was, the destruction would have been much greater had residents not taken steps to ensure there was defensible space around their homes, said Dave Hanneman, the fire chief of Chula Vista, one of many communities impacted by the fires.

Lucian Deaton of NFPA’s Wildland Operations Division spoke to Hanneman for his recent “Wildfire Watch” column in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal. Deaton wrote about the lessons learned from the San Diego County fires and how clearing fuel loads around homes there enabled firefighters to “direct their efforts on the fire front as the fire layed down when it reached properties where the fuels had been thinned and flammable debris removed.”

NFPA’s Firewise® program teaches residents fire principles and strategies to take action to reduce the risks of wildfire destroying their house. And, as focus increases on the rising cost of fighting wildfires, adopting Firewise principles can greatly reduce the resources required to combat fire.  

Engaging a structure fire costs more than $1,000 an hour in operations cost alone, never mind the property loss involved, Hanneman said.  

“Fires can still impact homes that employ every step of mitigation, but the principles of defensible space held true in May,” Deaton wrote. “Amidst the ongoing national debate on suppression costs … we need to do a better job capturing those firsthand accounts to support residents in their ongoing efforts to prepare for wildfire.” 


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FPW smoke alarms banner

Fire Prevention Week (FPW) is just around the corner – October 5-11 to be exact. Here’s an overview of what’s heating up for this year’s campaign, “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!"

  • In coordination with our FPW 2014 partnersLEGOLAND®, Domino’s® Pizza, CVS Pharmacy and The Home Depot – we’ll be promoting FPW in the coming weeks through a series of fun, engaging events and initiatives. Take a look at our Partners in Safety section for details on how we’re working with each of them.
  • We’re now entering the fourth week of our online smoke alarm pledge, where families who commit to testing their smoke alarms monthly are automatically entered into a grand prize sweepstakes. One randomly selected winner will receive a trip for up to four people to either LEGOLAND® Florida Resort or LEGOLAND® California Resort. The downloadable/printable pledge form is available through October 5.
  • Our FPW website offers a wealth of resources to communicate this year’s theme, including ways to team up with the local schools to educate kids about the importance of smoke alarms. The site also offers great smoke alarm advice, tips and information for adults.
  • Last but not least, Sparky the Fire Dog's® FPW page features activities that make learning about smoke alarms and fire safety really fun for kids, while Sparky's Schoolhouse features a new, interactive storybook app, "The Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms", which is one of the most downloaded apps on iTunes!

For more details on Fire Prevention Week 2014 and smoke alarms, visit

ResearchThe September-October issue of Research Foundation News is available for your viewing.  Featured items include:

  • Foundation research on prevention of cooking fires
  • New reports issued: 
    • Using crowdsourcing to develop emergency responder SOPs
    • Sprinkler Protection for Cloud Ceilings
    • Validation of the Fire Safety Evaluation System in the 2013 Edition of the NFPA 101A
    • Evaluation of Water Additives for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation
    • Egress Modelling in Health Care Occupancies
  • Free Webinar on Fire Safety Challenges in Tall Wood Buildings
  • New project on environmental impact of fire

Thanks for having a look! This bi-monthly Research Foundation newsletter describes new projects, research planning developments, newly issued reports, upcoming symposia, and other activities of the Foundation.

Don't miss an issue! Sign up now.

Staunch supporters of home fire sprinklers recently assembled at the construction site of two homes in Hanover, Massachusetts, offering their assistance with the sprinkler installation while underscoring the life-saving aspects of these systems. 

NFPA collaborated with the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), and the South Shore Habitat for Humanity to sprinkler the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath homes. NFPA President Jim Pauley took part in assisting professionals with the installation, which will take no more than a couple days to complete. Also in attendance was coalition chair Mary Regan, chief of the Westfield Fire Department, and David LaFond with NFSA, which assisted in obtaining the materials and labor for the installation.  

"This type of partnership is essential to the success of our homebuilding efforts," says Martine Taylor, South Shore Habitat's executive director. "These contributions enable us to help families move out of unsafe and substandard housing and into decent, affordable homes of their own."

Visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog to view photos from the event.

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