When a fatal fire occurs, the whole community feels it. From responding firefighters, grieving family members, to neighbors and local citizens. There is often a heighten sense of anxiety while a cause is determined, and questions swirl as to “what could we have done to prevent this”.
This scenario is all too familiar to me right now as my local community has recently experiences the 5th fatality in just a few short months. The most recent happening just blocks from my home. This time an electric space heater was the culprit, leaving a 94 year old, retired teacher, to be overcome by smoke before our City firefighters could arrive in just minutes.
And while my “territory” encompasses a vast 16 states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic portions of the US, my heart and home are in this little town nestled in Northern Michigan. As I read my morning paper with emerging details of the fatality, I couldn’t help but jump on my computer and pull up some resources to share following the fire.
NFPA’s Community Took Kits are a fantastic resource for outreach initiatives and include helpful tools such as templates for letters to the editor, op eds, talking points, and press releases. The information is up-to-date and targeted at fire causes including electrical, smoking, and heating. They also cover topics such as carbon monoxide, smoke alarms, and home escape planning. For this most recent fire, the letter to the editor on space heaters was packaged perfectly for me to add in my personal information and customize around the season. In minutes my letter was off to the local newspaper, and information, education, and hope is in the hands of readers. We often use the phrase that “fire is everyone’s fight”, and if we truly believe that, then we all can, and should, take advantage of the easy-to-access resources available through NFPA to help keep everyone safe.