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Facade of August issue of Safety SourceThe August issue of Safety Source, the Public Education newsletter, shows ways for kids to put Fire Prevention Week into action with the Be a Fire Safety Hero lesson plan, includes a checklist for caregivers of older adults, highlights the 12th annual partnership between NFPA and Domino’s Pizza for Fire Prevention Week, and highlights NFPA’s “Get Ready” toolkit in time for National Preparedness Month. There’s also much, much more.

Washington, DC – Fire departments in the United States understand the importance of residential smoke alarm installation programs in helping to save lives. However, a number of them have expressed concerns about implementing such programs because of the potential for being held liable if a fire leading to property loss, injury or death should occur after installing smoke alarms.


These concerns are addressed in a new report from the Network for Public Health Law, No Reported Cases in the United States Hold Nonprofit Organizations, Including Fire Departments, Liable for Damages as a Result of Smoke Alarm Installation, that answered a key question:


Do reported cases in the United States hold nonprofit organizations, volunteer organizations, local governments, or fire departments liable for damages -- such as fire damage, death, or injury – that are caused by a fire that occurred after the organization installed smoke alarms?


After comprehensive research, it was reported:


Our research identified no cases -- at any level -- holding nonprofit organizations, volunteer organizations, local governments, or fire departments liable for damage or injury associated with installation of smoke alarms in non-public housing.


The study goes on to report that there are at least three states, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Delaware, that provide specific liability exemptions for fire departments and several other states address the liability concerns.


In Arkansas, volunteer firefighters may not be found civilly liable for injury or damage ‘resulting from any act or omission in the installation of a smoke alarm provided free of charge’ absent intentional misconduct. The statute additionally protects board members and administrative personnel for the acts and omissions of personnel.


Connecticut’s immunity statute exculpates fire departments that install smoke alarms or batteries at residential premises. The statute applies when the installation (1) complies with manufacturer instructions and (2) occurs within the course of the department’s official capacity. The term “fire department” in the statute encompasses municipal, independent, and volunteer fire departments and companies.


Delaware similarly provides immunity from liability for non-profit organizations, municipal governments, and fire departments that distribute or install smoke detectors for free.


While not specifically addressing smoke alarm installation, some states provide statutory immunity for a fire department’s failure to provide -- or method of providing -- fire protection services. It is unclear whether such statutes cover smoke and fire alarm installation. Some other states provide immunity for fire department activities in addition to fire protection services. Georgia, for example, provides immunity for any volunteer conducting a ‘safety program.’ including those related to home safety and fire hazards.


These are important findings that may help address the liability concerns of fire departments and non-profit organizations involved in installing residential smoke alarms. The full report is available from the Network for Public Health Law at



Vision 20/20 is a project focused on addressing the gaps in fire prevention and promoting Community Risk Reduction by developing free tools and resources, and fostering an exchange of ideas about best practices. More information can be found at or on Twitter @strategicfire or Facebook @strategicfire


The most popular campfire treat is recognized each year on August 10th during National S’mores Day.  This delicious, gooey treat is loved by millions across the United States. Before you start preparing this scrumptious indulgence, review these precautions:

  • Before setting up a campfire, be sure it’s permitted.
  • If it is permitted, keep the campfire at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn.
  • Attend to the campfire at all times and watch children when the fire is burning.
  • If making s’mores with children, monitor them so that they don’t get burned.
  • Keep a campfire small. It will be easier to control.
  • Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire.

Check out our Campfire Safety tip sheet to keep your s'mores celebration and other activities around the campfire safe.

Photo of flames over logs, followed by a list of tips

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