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All Places > Safety Source > Blog > 2013 > January

!|src=|alt=Ernest Grant_1971-800pxls|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Ernest Grant_1971-800pxls|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017d40672b85970c!Ernest Grant, first vice chair of the NFPA Board of Directors, says it is an honor to serve as chair of the board’s Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant &#0160; committee. Each year, he and the other committee members screen the applications for the grant, which provides $5,000 to any fire department–career or volunteer–located in the United States or Canada to support its community-wide fire and life safety education program or campaign.

“I get to see amazing proposals from people enthusiastic about fire and life safety who recognize the importance of expanding on the work they do in their communities,” Grant says. “It does my heart good to see these individuals carry on the legacy of Mr. Jensen, a proponent of fire and life safety education.”

Rolf H. Jensen, P.E., was also a leading authority on fire protection engineering and participated in NFPA’s consensus standards process throughout his distinguished career.  The deadline for applications this year is February 8. Grant encourages prospective applicants who may have doubts about the strength of their proposals to apply anyway.

“Get the experience of going through the application process,” he says. “If you don’t win this year, there’s always next year. It’s a great opportunity.”


To learn the best way to reach residents of Memphis neighborhoods with the highest risk to fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries, NFPA hired the Harvest Research Group, LLC to conduct focus groups with a variety of groups. The goal of the research was to explore perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors about fires and fire prevention that the Memphis Fire Department could use to help design public education programs.
 The Memphis Fire Department and NFPA staff chose individual groups that consisted of mothers with children ages 8 and younger; pastors of churches in South Memphis; adults 66 and over living independently or with a relative; adults ages 21 to 34; adults ages 35 to 49; and adults ages 50 to 64.
For the majority of participants, crime was a more salient threat to their quality of life and sense of safety than fire. However, respondents spoke of neighbors or relatives who had lost everything to fire. When they learned of the numbers of fire deaths and injuries in their neighborhoods, they were more eager to do something to prevent those fires.
Among the participants’ comments were:
“Make people aware of the facts. If people were more aware, they’d be more conscious.”
“If you know better, you do better.”
“I have an uncle who’s in a chair in a rental (apartment), and it should be condemned. He can’t afford to go anywhere else, and the owners don’t even care.”
“It would have to be something major to make me take time out of my day. You’ll have to tell me, “This is going to save you and your kids.”
Read the complete report,
“Fire Safety Education and Outreach Programs: Memphis, Tennessee,” online.<br />

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Pictured are some of the team members: Left to right Ben Evarts, NFPA; Director Alvin Benson, Memphis Fire Department;Sharon Gamache, NFPA; Daryl Payton, Deputy Chief of Operations, Memphis Fire Department, Chief Derrick Sawyer, Philadelphia Fire Department and consultant to NFPA Urban Project

News accounts are reporting that more than 200 people have died in an early morning fire in a nightclub in southern Brazil. 

Fires in assembly occupancies, like nightclubs, have shown to be some of the most deadly when the proper features, systems and construction materials were not present. Every so often, the unexpected happens. Anyone who enters public assembly buildings needs to be prepared.

Before you enter

  • Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in      a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and      does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of      materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
  • Have a communication plan
    Identify a      relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated      from family or friends.
  • Plan a meeting place
    Pick a meeting      place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the      function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.

Learn more about how you and your loved ones can be best prepared for an emergency at a nightclub or other assembly occupancy. Download our free safety tip sheet.

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. Like smoke alarms, CO alarms also need to tested once a month. Add them to your monthly routine. When you test smoke alarms, test your CO alarms. too. Learn more about CO safety.

We are dealing with frigid temperatures this week here in New England.  Everyone is bundled up and children are having to play indoors.  Here is a great indoor activity for kids.  Make a fun winter scene with Sparky the Fire Dog.  It is as easy as print, cut and glue.  "Stay safe this winter.  Keep hats, mittens and everything else away from space heaters," Sparky says.

Sparky activities

Looking for other fire safety fun activities and games?  Visit!

Ed Section LogoWhat happens when a community’s population grows, but budgeting for fire department public education programs remains the same so that staff no longer has time to make presentations in the schools because of additional responsibilities, causing public education programs to suffer?

The Layton City Fire Department in Layton City, Utah, faced these challenges but through innovation and community partnerships was able to revive its public education program. You can read the full story of the fire department’s strategy for success on the Education Section page of the NFPA web site. The section board and members periodically update the web page.

Other stories recently posted include a profile of a member who has celebrated more than 40 years with the fire service, results of a survey in which public educators were asked about the types of resources they would like the section and NFPA’s Public Education Division to provide them, and a column written by 2012 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Marsha Giesler on how to introduce fire and life safety messages to schools and keep them there.

It is cold and snowy here in New England. Here is a great indoor activity to do with your kids. I can't stress how important it is to have your children play an active role in your family's fire safety. Most of us go ahead and test our smoke alarms once a month (I know you all do) but by having kids walk around the home with you, it makes them aware of:

1. where the smoke alarms are in the home

2. what they sound like 

3. it opens the door for a casual conversation about what they should do if the smoke alarm does sound.

My five year-old has a blast everytime we press that test button. Do you make testing smoke alarms in your home a family affair?



Help send Sparky the Fire Dog® around the world!  Color, decorate and cut out Flat Sparky, take a picture of him on an adventure and share it with us.  You can post the photo to Sparky's Facebook page, or pin it to Pinterest and mention @NFPA in your caption! 


!|src=|alt=KEEPER FOR EMAC BLOG!|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=KEEPER FOR EMAC BLOG!|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c358ea9f9970b!Comments are now being accepted on NFPA’s fire safety education messages, which are used throughout NFPA’s educational programs, curricula, and handouts. The messages also provide fire and life safety educators with accurate and consistent language for use when presenting safety information to the public. The Educational Messages Advisory Committee, composed of fire and life safety experts and staff, meets each year to review the comments submitted and update the messages. The deadline for comments is May 10, 2013.

On Monday, some areas of the country that usually have warm weather were experiencing unusually cold weather this week: in El Paso, it was 250F (-1.600C); in Los Angeles, it was 350F (1.60C); and in Phoenix, it was 250F (-3.80C). Homes in these areas may not have central heating, so people may rely on space heaters or other ways to warm their homes.

Photo by Dicky Bain, Navajo Nation
Some important safety messages to share with those using space heaters include following:  •     Keep heaters at least 3 feet ( 1 meter) away from anything that can burn •     Use heating equipment that has a label of a recognized testing laboratory. •     Never use your stove or oven to heat you home. They are not designed for that purpose. •     Have a 3-foot (1-meter) “kid-free zone” around a heater or open fire. Teach them to stay away from heaters and other hot things.

You can download a free heating safety free tip sheet with more messages as well as a free copy of the NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn Preschool Program “Stay Away from Hot Things” lesson plan for preschool age children and kindergarteners. The program includes many activities and the lively “Don’t Touch Hot Things songs” by Jim Post. You can also download a free “Stay Away from Hot Things” lesson plan for children in the first grade.For a comprehensive program on staying safe this winter, you can access the United States Fire Administration and NFPA’s “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” campaign program materials.

Dryer 1
It’s so easy to put laundry in the dryer and continue on with household activities. I just heard about a clothes dryer fire that I have to share with you.

A family in Utah is safe because of the quick action of a boy named Jake. The clothes dryer was on and the family was at home watching television. Jake smelled smoke and went to investigate the laundry room. To his surprise, he found smoke from the clothes dryer. He immediately turned off the
dryer and the fire went out. Mike who is Jake’s dad, an NFPA member and a former paramedic fire fighter, inspected the situation and determined the fire was out and the family was not in danger. Mike moved the dryer and was shocked to see the amount of lint that had built up under the dryer. Mike and his family want to remind home owners to be sure to clean the lint filter of your dryer after
every use. He also encourages everyone to inspect and clean inside, behind and under the dryer where lint can accumulate. In addition, be sure to clean out the vent pipe at least once a year. Dryer lint removal services are available if a homeowner does not feel comfortable cleaning out the lint.

Dryer 2
Mike told me that in the past, his family has put a load of clothes in the dryer at night and gone to bed. If the family had done that, this may have been a very different story. The family has committed to never running the dryer when they go to bed and always staying home when the dryer is running.

I’m glad Mike shared his story. Let’s remember to keep our dryers clean. I’d also like to remind everyone to be sure you have working smoke alarms in your home. Smoke alarms should be located inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect the alarms so when one sounds they all sound. Test smoke alarms monthly.

Thanks Mike and I am happy your family and home are safe!


Use a recycled jar and tissue paper to make this snowy candleholder. Of course, a battery-operated candle is a must for this project. Check out this month's Cool to Do on for the how-to for this project. We also have a new Crack the Code message. Q: How far should you stay away from a space heater? Crack the code and get the answer.

When I was a first grade classroom teacher, I was always looking for  ways to integrate my lesson plans.  Each month on Sparky's Parents & Educators website there is a different "Learning Link".  These are incredible activities and wonderful ways to integrate fire safety education into other core subjects in the classrooms. 

The "Learning Link" this month is "measuring up". This fire-safety themed, printable encourages kids to become familiar with units of measurement and practice identifying given measurements.

The second page challenges students to measure the “kid-free zone”  around a space heater, stove, or fireplace. By making this  a hands-on  activity you will help students visualize, and remember, the "kid-free  zone" in their everyday lives. 

measuring up activity sheet

Fire departments in the United States and Canada that are introducing or maintaining a fire and life safety program or campaign can have their efforts supported by the Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant.&#0160;




Brockton Fire TruckLieutenant Robert Hendrigan, Public Education Officer for the Brockton Fire Department in Brockton, Massachusetts says that since the department launched its High-Rise Apartment Safety and Emergency Preparedness Program in 2012 with the support of the Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant, there’s been a significant improvement in safety practices among residents. He said the fire department fields more calls from the public about safety concerns. In addition, data from mid October through the end of December of 2012 showed a 7.7 percent drop in expected incidents reported.

Historically, Brockton has had a disproportionate number of emergency calls coming from five high-rise properties. The department conducted the Safety and Emergency Preparedness Program at the seven Brockton Housing Authority high-rise apartment buildings, providing multiple classes to reach as many residents as possible. Topics covered included cooking, smoking, heating, electrical, and candle safety, as well as the dangers of hoarding, slips, trips, and falls, and preparing for emergencies. A number of residents followed up by calling the fire department with additional questions.

“Without funding we may not have had the opportunity to make Brockton a safer place,” said Lt. Hendrigan. Because of the success of the program the fire department is expanding the program, introducing it to other properties where incidents have occurred in high numbers.

The application deadline for the 2013 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant is February 8.

In 2012 and 2013, NFPA Public Education Division has been working with the Memphis Fire Department on a urban project to develop strategies to reduce deaths and injuries in Memphis, particularly in high-risk-to-fire neighborhoods. Some of the partnership activities include using data to determine the highest-risk populations, conducting discussion groups among firefighters serving the communities with the most fire runs, conducting focus groups among residents of the high-risk communities and ministers and faith-based leaders serving those communities, Fire Prevention Week outreach, and training Memphis public education staff on NFPA public education programs.
Daryl Payton, chief of Operations for the Memphis Fire Department, said that he appreciates that NFPA is working with the fire department on strategies to reduce fire deaths in high-risk communities. He said that Memphis Fire Department personnel think that working with the faith-based communities will be particularly important to Memphis residents.

Pictured below are the Memphis public education staff and firefighters from Station one who participated in a train-the-trainer session for Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults conducted by Sharon Gamache and Judy Comoletti at the Memphis Fire Museum.

Firefighters role play Remembering When cooking behaviors.

Pictured are firefighters from Engines 10 and 14 at Station 14 who participated in discussions about serving the people of their community conducted by NFPA. 

Deputy Chief Operations Daryl Payton and fire safety educators Marion Nance and Patrice Lester participate in an educational session on using NFPA’s website

Candle on desk
When I was a kindergarten teacher, candles were not allowed in my classroom. Luckily, this school was equipped with a fire sprinkler system which extinguished the fire. An unattended candle on a teacher’s desk caught the desk on fire while the class was at an assembly. I’m curious; do schools in your community allow lit candles in the classroom?

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The results are in on the 2012 implementation of Remembering When™: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults by the 29 teams of fire departments and home visit agencies awarded scholarships to participate in a training conference on the program in December 2011. By far, expectations were exceeded. More than 8,000 older adults were reached either through home visits or group presentations.

As part of the scholarship, the fire departments committed to conducting five group presentations to older adults and two train-the-trainer sessions for home visitors to older adults. The home visit agencies agreed to conduct at least 25 home visits. In many instances fire departments were able to provide double the number of train-the-trainers and group presentations. Some home visit agencies
were able to conduct hundreds of home visits.

“What I really love about the scholarship program is the process of bringing the partner organizations together and seeing the enthusiasm and follow through of the firefighters and the home visitors,” said Sharon Gamache, NFPA Public Education Division Program Director, High-Risk Outreach Programs. “I am inspired by their commitment.”

Each year since 2007 NFPA’s Public Education Division has awarded scholarships to teams of fire departments and home visit agencies for the training conference in Boston as part of its ongoing effort to help reduce fires and falls among older adults. NFPA and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention developed Remembering When to help older adults live safety at home as long as possible. A key component of the program is 16 safety messages–eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention.


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