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Since its launch five years ago, NFPA's public education e-newsletter, Safety Source, has provided the latest information on happenings in the public education division,

activities, fire statistics, trends, educational tips, Sparky the Fire

Dog® and more. Our mailing list reaches fire departments, parents, teachers and businesses. Help us reach our goal of 100,000 subscribers; by signing up today. If you are going to be at the Conference and Expo in Chicago , stop by the NFPA Booth to sign up. For a limited time, we will be giving away Safety Source micro fiber cleaning cloths to all those who sign up for the newsletter at the Booth.

Apache junction fdThe Apache Junction Fire District had the great privilege of working with the 8th grade Science classes at Cactus Canyon Junior High in Apache Junction, Arizona. 

During this school year, the firefighters took part in the science of fire education and our Prevention & Media Production Departments took part in the creation of a safety PSA.  Upon completion of curriculum, the students were broke into groups and had to come up with a topic to educate our public.  The students wrote the scenes, created the scenarios and then shot their PSA’s using the schools equipment.  

One PSA was chosen from each hour and went on AJFD’s YouTube page for an American Idol style of voting.  The PSA that received the most likes won the opportunity to work with us to re-create their video using our equipment and a realistic setting.   

"It was so awesome to create an important safety message for our district, while working with the youth in our community!  They were all a great bunch of young people, with great ideas."     

Science Teacher, Regan Roach showed this PSA to the entire Cactus Canyon Junior High student body, faculty and parents and stated, “It was amazing! The kids were so excited. The entire audience gave them a standing ovation. It was fun! Thank you so much for all you guys did! I can't wait to make it even better next year!”

Turn your volume up and enjoy.  Please share with everyone you know!

Guest post by Brett Brenner, ESFI

Brett3As National Electrical Safety Month comes to a close, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is reminding consumers that they can prevent electrical shocks and fires all year long by protecting their homes with tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs), arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). 

These devices, which can prevent tragedy before it ever occurs, have proven so effective that the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires them to be installed in all new homes.

Here is an overview of these home safety devices that can be easily integrated into your existing electrical system to help reduce the risk of fires and electrocutions. 

Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs)

  • Every year in the United States,      more than 2,400 children under 10 years old are treated in hospital      emergency rooms for electric shock or burns caused by tampering with a      wall outlet, which could be prevented by installing TRRs in the home.
  • TRRs look just like ordinary      outlets, but are designed with spring-loaded receptacle cover plates that      close off the receptacle openings or slots. 
  • Tamper      resistant receptacles feature an internal shutter mechanism to      prevent small children from inserting foreign objects into them.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)

  • An arc fault is a dangerous      electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated or stressed electrical      wiring or devices, and is one of the major causes of the more than 51,000      electrical fires that occur each year in the United States.
  • Branch/feeder AFCIs replace      standard circuit breakers in the home’s electrical service panel to detect      hazardous arcing conditions and shut down the electricity before a fire      can start.
  • Outlet AFCIs provide protection      to power cords and things that are plugged into the receptacle. There are      also combination AFCIs, which combine the features of circuit breaker and      outlet AFCIs.
  • Originally, AFCIs were only      required to protect bedroom circuits, but the 2011 National Electrical      Code (NEC) requires that this technology be installed in additional      areas of the home, including dining and living rooms.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

  • A GFCI is a device designed to      protect people from electric shock and electrocution by constantly      monitoring electricity flow in a circuit and quickly switching off power      if it senses any loss of current.
  • If GFCIs were installed in      older homes, experts suggest that 70 percent of the electrocutions that      occur each year in the home could be prevented.
  • GFCIs can be installed at the      main service panel, in place of standard electrical outlets, or can be      used as a portable device.
  • Typically, GFCIs are installed in      areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as the      bathroom, garage, kitchen and basement.
  • GFCIs should be tested monthly,      as they can be damaged as a result of voltage surges from lightning,      utility switching or normal usage.

If your home is not protected by these devices, consult a licensed electrician to learn more about installing them in your home.  More information on these safety devices, including illustrated guides, fact sheets and videos, can be found on ESFI’s website

On average, one of every 12 hotels or motels reported a structure fire each year. Know how to prepare yourself in a hotel/motel emergency. Watch my new video, which features tips on preparations before your trip and once you’ve arrived, and how to respond if the alarm sounds.


Download our hotel and motel safety tip sheet or see all of our safety tip sheets .

Owatonna Kitchen FireA fire in Owatonna, MN on Saturday makes this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign even more important. The fire gutted the kitchen of a second story apartment and caused smoke damage throughout the second floor. The building was unoccupied and the fire was noticed by passersby who saw smoke coming from the building.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it appears that the fire started in the kitchen. Our 2013 FPW theme “Prevent Kitchen Fires” is aimed at spreading the word about the dangers of kitchen fires. Did you know that two of every five home fires start in the kitchen? It’s time to focus on this leading cause of fires.

Start planning your campaign to impact the number of kitchen fires in your community. NFPA offers lots of materials for Fire Prevention Week – for the fire service, for teachers and for kids, and families. It’s not too early to order your Fire Prevention Week in a Box or begin promoting your Sparky’s Wish List to businesses in your community.

How many kitchen fires did your community experience last year? Do the research and then implement our "Prevent Kitchen Fires" FPW campaign or use our "Keeping Your Community Cooking Safely" kit. Next year, at this time, look at your kitchen fire statistics again and see if you have a decrease in the number of kitchen fires as a result of your community outreach efforts.

I’d like to hear about the kitchen fires that have occurred in your community. Share your stories with us.

Know the noise
Check out Sparky's version of the classic memory game, Simon. I was never good at that game no matter how hard I tried. I am a little better at Follow the Sounds. Can you master all 8 sounds? This is a great way to reinforce listening and sequencing skills for kids.

Vida Verde 2Each year the city of McAllen, Texas, hosts the largest Earth Day observance in South Texas. The Vida Verde Earth Day Festival features wildlife shows, organic cooking demonstrations, rock climbing, and hands-on eco-art projects.

Visitors not only celebrate “going green” but learn about fire and life safety. At the festival last month, the McAllen Fire Department set up its fire safety house and presented talks on fire and fall safety for older adults from NFPA’s Remembering When program.

Vida Verde draws thousands of visitors of all ages, giving the fire department an opportunity to reach a large audience with its fire safety message.

Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) has teamed up with GIO Personal Insurance as FRNSW’s first ever Principal Partner. GIO has been a partner since 2008 and has been instrumental in developing an online Home Fire Safety Audit Tool Kit and Recovery Kit. They have also contributed to
the Winter Fire Safety campaign and Open Day (a fire station open house day held at the end of Fire Prevention Week and launch of the annual Winter Fire Safety Campaign).

Over the next three years, GIO will increase its commitment as a principal partner to help FRNSW update and improve the usability of the online Home Fire Safety Audit, deliver a bigger and better Winter Fire Safety campaign and a more integrated Fire Prevention Week and Open Day.

Quiz screenshot
We are happy to announce that we are sponsoring the “Fire Service Safety & Health Quiz” Sweepstakes in conjunction with International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week (which will be June 16-22, 2013). The theme of the week, and of the contest, will be “Saving Our Own… An Inside Job.”

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NFVC) are co-sponsoring this sweepstakes with NFPA. Career firefighters, volunteer firefighters and other fire department employees and fire service members are invited to take the online, interactive quiz, featuring 15 questions related to firefighter health and safety.

“Raising awareness and education for firefighter health and safety is always a priority,” said Ken Willette, NFPA’s division manager of Public Fire Protection and a former fire chief. “This quiz is a quick and promising way to refresh fire service members’ knowledge and improve the safety of their teams.”

The quiz will be offered between May 20 and June 18 at One sweepstakes entry will be given for a completed quiz through the Snapapp widget, with an additional entry if the quiz taker shares their result on Twitter.

On June 19, the 125 randomly selected winners will be announced. These winners will each receive a specially designed challenge coin commemorating this year’s International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week. Read more details, and the full contest rules


Journey with Flat Sparky

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee May 17, 2013

Everyone once in a while, most of us roam beyond the confines of our homes and offices and out into the world. NFPA's mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog is asking you to bring him along with Flat Sparky. These paper cutouts can be colored in, photographed and posted at Sparky's Facebook or Twitter (@Sparky_Fire_Dog), or by tagging NFPA on Pinterest. Bring Sparky with you to show off your favorite restaurants, parks, bookstores, modern art installations or just a great view.


Download, cut out, color in, and wander freely with Sparky by clicking here. Happy travels!

!|src=|alt=Radio logo|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Radio logo|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901bfdcf1f970b!Senior Moments Radio+ is a nationally syndicated program about care and services for older adults. Geoff Scott, “The Senior Bodyguard,” and co-host Cheryl Hartman interview guests on a broad range of topics, from how to avoid scams to pet therapy for older adults. I was asked to join in on their discussion the day the topic was fire and fall safety. My interview centered on Remembering When .


The co-hosts had a light-hearted but serious approach, peppering the hour-long show with jokes and self-deprecating banter, but also giving me the opportunity to talk at length about NFPA’s messaging and Remembering When’s eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention behaviors. At the end of the show, Geoff and Cheryl thanked me and said that they had learned a few things they didn’t know about fire and fall safety, too.

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Fall safety and high jinks make the point on TV show

FPW13200x200I just opened one of my “Google Alerts” this morning and it included “Family displaced following Allentown (PA) kitchen fire”, “Kitchen fire in downtown apartment building leads to second alarm (Buffalo, NY)”, "Firefighters respond to kitchen fire at McCarthy Manor Apartments (Syracuse, NY)”, and "Firefighters
deal with kitchen fire in Rough Common (Kent, England).” The common theme is kitchen fires. This intrigued me, so I looked at each article to see what was happening in the kitchen for all these fires to occur. In Allentown, PA the fire was caused by problems with electrical wires, the Buffalo, NY apartment fire is under investigation, the McCarthy Manor apartment fire in Syracuse, NY was caused by unattended cooking, and no cause was attributed to the Kent, England fire.

With four kitchen fires in the news today, our 2013 Fire Prevention Week theme “Prevent Kitchen Fires” is right on target. It’s not too early to start planning for Fire Prevention Week. Some of the things you can start today are planning your calendar of events, selecting the materials you want to support your campaign and promoting your Sparky’s Wish list in your community. While you’re planning your activities to help reduce the number of kitchen fires in your community, don’t forget our community outreach kits. We have one specifically for cooking which provides you with media materials, talking points, PSAs and tip sheets for consumers. Don’t’ forget our safety tips sheets on cooking safety and scald prevention which can be great handouts for residents.

Good luck with your 2013 Fire Prevention Week campaign and be sure to let me know if you need any assistance in making this your best Fire Prevention Week ever.

Guest post by Brett Brenner, ESFI

Brett3Each year in the United States, more than 2,400 children under the age of 10 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electric shock or burn injuries from electrical outlets and nearly 500 children under the age of 15 die from unintentional fire or burn-related injuries. 

ESFI recently launched a new program titled “Be Smart about Fire and Electrical Safety,” which targets school-age children in Grades 3-5 and contains print and online educational materials that promote the importance of fire and electrical safety.  Developed materials are aligned with National Education Standards in Science and Reading, require no advance preparation, and cover a broad range of topics that will help students understand critical principles in reference to fire and electrical safety at home. 

Pip_1The In-School element of the program features a classroom toolkit that provides comprehensive lesson plans and student activities to equip students with knowledge and awareness to help them identify and prevent fire and electrical safety hazards in the home.  Over 100,000 of these toolkits have been direct-mailed to schools serving identified at-risk populations across the country.   Students can also participate in ESFI’s national Fire and Electrical Safety Contest – and even have a chance to win at trip to Washington, DC! 

ESFI has also expanded the popular Kids’ Corner section of its website.  In the new video, P.I. Plug on the Road, ESFI’s beloved electrical safety ambassador, Private I. Plug, visits his grandmother’s house and helps her identify the electrical dangers in her home.   Additionally, a new interactive activity has been developed to allow children to create and send e-cards with fire safety related messages to their loved ones, fostering electrical safety practices for the whole family.

These newly developed materials are central components to ESFI’s 2013 National Electrical Safety Month campaign, “Electrical Safety for all Ages,” which encourages families to take a multigenerational approach to safety.   It is our hope that our safety materials will help families work together to identify and correct home electrical safety hazards. 

If you would like to raise awareness of electrical safety in your community, ESFI will mail the P.I. Plug says, "Be Smart About Fire and Electrical Safety!" classroom toolkit to you free of charge.  Simply send an email to with the number of kits you are requesting and a physical delivery address.

Be sure to visit for more educational resources for children and for more information on National Electrical Safety Month.  


Fire safety with shapes

Posted by aprilbriggs Employee May 9, 2013

!|src=|alt=Fire safety with shapes|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Fire safety with shapes|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017eeafdaddf970d!

We use shapes every day as adults, although we may not realize
it. Think about rearranging the furniture, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards
or the refrigerator - all done according to the shape of the items in them, and
how they will relate to each other. Road signs and markings make extensive use
of different shapes, helping us to recognize them before we can actually read

Children are expected to know the basic
shapes, recognize them and identify how they form part of other items. They may
also be expected to be able to draw the shapes - not perfectly, but certainly
recognizably. There are many ways to encourage and help your child to learn
about shapes.

Because shapes are all around us, it is easy to play 'Find the
Shape' at home, in the car, in the store and elsewhere. Select one shape at a
time to concentrate on, rather than trying to find all the different shapes.


Make this a fire safety lesson . When you child

identifies a smoke alarm as a CIRCLE shape, this provides a great opportunity to test the alarm to be sure it is

working and make sure your child recognizes the sound of the alarm and knows what to do. Leave the home and go to your outside meeting place.

The RECTANGLE shape can become a re safety lesson, too. When your child

identifies a door or window as a rectangle shape, use this to review escape
planning and the importance of knowing two ways out of every room.


For more ideas and activities visit and .</p>

Video WinnerReaching high school teenagers with fire safety information can be a challenge. The Massachusetts Fire Marshal’s Office is up for the challenge as they announce the winners of their 5th annual YouTube® Burn Awareness Video Contest. The contest is hosted by the state Department of Fire Services, the Massachusetts Association of Safety and Fire Educators (MaSAFE), and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Using the power of YouTube, students are encouraged to create their own videos. They take on the roles of writers, actors, directors and producers. The project is coordinated through high school media teachers to help them reach their own educational goals while engaging students in a fun activity. Thirty-three teams representing twelve high schools participated in the contest this year. While all the videos were great, first place went to Millis High school for their video The Extinguisher; second place winners were from Norwood High School for Cooking Safety and third place winners were from Sharon High School for Allstate Mayhem Ad Parody.

The contest was open to grade 9-12 students. The project demonstrates how fire safety can be integrated into core standards such as English Language Arts. Congratulations to everyone participating in the contest. If you would like to learn how to implement a video project in your state, contact Jennifer Mieth.

National Teacher Appreciation Day is Tuesday, May 7. It is time to say "thank you" to all those wonderful teachers out there. Sparky is celebrating teachers all month long. Student’s can let their teachers know just how much they care with our new, printable bookmarks showing “These are a few of my favorite things about you.” Just print and fill in the person’s name, a list of what you like about him or her, and your name. It’s that easy. We've also made one for mom, too!


Quincy Sparky
The Quincy Fire Department (Illinois) has introduced the newest member of the department, but he is a little different from other firefighters. He walks, he talks, he has a long nose and he has spots on his ears.

Sparky the fire dog made his debut to the Ohio Players' song "Fire" during a short press conference Wednesday at Central Fire Station. He will make his first public appearance Saturday at the Dogwood Festival Parade.

The Sparky costume was worn by Quincy firefighter Jerry Smith, who is part of the department's public education team. Firefighter Michael Dade, also a member of the public education team, said the department plans to use Sparky when dealing with younger children, especially in visits to area schools.

"Anybody that has kids knows that everyday when they come home from school, they want to talk about what they did," he said. "Firefighters coming in the middle of the day changing up their routine really leaves an impression on them."

Sparky will help present the department's Risk Watch campaign, which targets the children in the city.

"I think this is a little more kid-friendly way to deal with the younger members of our community," Dade said. "We want to fight fires through prevention. The more information that we can get out there to the most people is one of the best ways we can do that."

The Sparky costume cost about $4,800 and was paid for by money the department received from the Foreign Fire Insurance Board. The eyes can blink and wink, the mouth moves to the user's voice and programmed songs, and the user's voice can be modified. It also contains a cooling system.

"He has all these little personality traits that he can kind of use as we're talking to kids," Dade said.

Sparky has been part of fire safety and fire prevention for more than 60 years. He can be found in many educational videos and materials distributed by the National Fire Protection Association.

Fire Chief Joe Henning said the public education team has seen a renewed vigor over the last year.

"We've brought some new members on the team, and they really have been working hard to come up with new, different and innovative ways to take our public safety message to the public," he said.

More information on Sparky can be found online at He can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Brett3Guest post by Brett Brenner, ESFI

Although electrical hazards threaten the public at large, older adults are burdened with the gravest risk.  Adults over the age of 65 are more than twice as likely to die from a house fire as the general population, and this risk increases with age.  Those 75 years of age and over are challenged with a risk that is 2.8 times higher, and adults over 85 are at a staggering risk that is 3.7 times higher.  As baby boomers enter retirement age, it is predicted that the percentage of older Americans will increase significantly, thus making a corresponding increase in fire deaths and injuries among older adults probable.

Electrical failures are a leading cause of home fires every year, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment fires have been shown to increase in frequency with increasing dwelling age.   Homes with aging electrical systems are at a heightened risk for electrical fires, posing a serious risk for older adults who have remained in the same home for an extended period of time.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of the homes in use in the United States were built before 1973, which is long before many of the electronics and appliances we use today were even invented. Unfortunately, our increased demands for energy can overburden an older home’s electrical system causing fires or electrocutions. 

Many home electrical fires can be prevented by using more up-to-date technology and by recognizing warning signs your home may be showing.  Share these critical safety tips with your older loved ones, while also making sure you follow them in your own home:

  • Regularly check all cords, outlets, switches, and appliances for signs of damage or wear.
  • Use extension cords only temporarily.
  • Be sure that outlets that are not overloaded with too many devices.  They can overheat and start a fire.
  • Look and listen for warning signs of an electrical problem such as outlets and switches that are warm, or make crackling, sizzling or buzzing sounds. 
  • Always replace fuses or circuit breakers with the correct size and amperage. And make sure all circuits are labeled correctly.
  • Consider having your breakers upgraded to state-of-the-art AFCI circuit breakers. Keep the electrical panel accessible so you can quickly shut off power in an emergency.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Place alarms inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Test them once a month, change the batteries at least once a year, and replace the alarm itself every ten years.

NESM logo
These safety tips are part of ESFI’s National Electrical Safety Month campaign, “Electrical Safety for All Ages.”   For more information on National Electrical Safety Month and for ESFI’s complete “Home Fire Safety for Older Adults” program, visit their rockers publicity shotWhile channel surfing recently, I came across a program called Betty White’s Off Their Rockers. It’s a reality comedy series broadcast on NBC in which older adults play pranks on members of the younger generation. I’ve been a fan of Betty White for many years so I eased up on the remote and thought I’d tune in for at least a few minutes.

The show is hilarious. The younger generation’s reaction to the pranksters’ mischief is a key element to the humor. In the episode I watched, an older gentleman ran up to some young adults at the park, desperate for help because he said the man behind a nearby tree, also an older adult, was stalking him because of a Facebook connection. Pretty soon, the stalker came from behind the tree and chased the man through the park. Later, two women riding a bicycle-built-for-two flirted with two young men passing by and convinced them to hop aboard and steer the bike. identified an important thread in each sketch. While Betty White’s crew was making mischief, they were also exercising.PSY In NFPA’s Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults, we provide eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention messages including, “Exercise regularly to build strength and improve your balance and coordination.”
While entertaining audiences, the practical jokers were reinforcing an important safety message without even realizing it.

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