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Image of September Safety Source

At 1:00 p.m. ET today (September 17) a panel of fire and life safety experts will share their knowledge about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning to help you make this Fire Prevention Week the best it can be. The September issue includes information on how to register. The newsletter also includes ways to help college-age students and parents keep fire safety in mind, and suggestions for promoting emergency preparedness as part of National Preparedness Month.

Practice your escape plan today!

 

Do you have a plan for an emergency? It’s important to make a plan today. Throughout the month of September, NFPA will be participating in National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA. During this second week of the public awareness campaign the focus is on being prepared if disaster strikes. Here are some steps:

  • Put together a plan by discussing key questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
  • Consider specific needs in your household
  • Fill out a family emergency plan
  • Practice your plan with your family/household

Planning and practice are at the center of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign. Home escape planning and practice ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire and is prepared to escape quickly and safely. FPW materials designed to help public educators, consumers, and others reinforce the important messages in their communities can be found in the toolkit, which includes sample social media posts and cards, home fire escape grids, kids’ activity sheets, checklists, and press releases.

National Preparedness Month, Have enough food, water and meds to last for at least 3 to 7 days.

Throughout the month of September, NFPA will be participating in National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA. During this first week of the public awareness campaign, we’re reminded to save early for disaster costs. The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners, renters and businesses and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.

For more information, visit www.FloodSmart.gov. Watch this short informative video, Why do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

Protecting yourself today means preparing your home or workplace, collecting sources of information, developing an emergency communications plan and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching your home or business.

FEMA’s Flood Loss Avoidance fact sheet is a valuable resource. Visit the NFIP publications page (see "During the Flood") and NFPA’s Get Ready safety tip sheet for more information about what to do before and during a flood.

And If you’re looking for general information on home insurance in case of disaster and protecting yourself in the wildland urban interface, you’ll want to check out the blog from my colleague, Megan Fitzgerald McGowan.

Older adults exercising

 

September is National Senior Center Month. The National Institute of Senior Centers is celebrating by highlighting the theme: Senior Centers: The Key to Aging Well. This year’s theme was chosen to highlight how senior centers share knowledge, programming, and resources that make a different in the lives of older adults.

One resource that can be beneficial to senior centers and those who frequent them is NFPA’s Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults. In such a target-rich environment, public educators, health educators and volunteers can present the program to dozens of individuals at a time. While Senior Centers are being highlighted is a great time to bring into focus programming to enhance their quality of life.

The Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award, which NFPA presents each year, recognizes educators who take the lead roll in making their communities safer. The 2019 recipient is City of Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey. Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting techniques Brickey has used to successfully engage his local community in fire safety practices.

In the community of Kingsport, Tennessee, Fire Prevention Week isn’t a week-long observance in October. Fire Headshot of Barry Brickey in service uniformPrevention Week runs from the beginning of August through the second week of December and Barry Brickey plays a large role in that expanded time frame.

He says that the last week of July is his slow week for presentations, but kicks of his “scheduling boom.” From the first week of school in August, until a couple of weeks before Christmas, Brickey’s schedule is packed with school visits, presentations to the general public, and fire station tours.

“Our department has become the ‘fire station visit center’ for our region,” he says. Students from neighboring counties and cities in Tennessee and Virginia visit his fire department.

“Eight companies will go out to school, neighborhood, and church festivals with handouts and fire safety stickers,” he adds. In addition to working with the American Red Cross to install smoke alarms, conducting Fire Safety Day at each elementary school and visiting Head Start, day care centers, and kindergarten classes, the department fields many requests from businesses, older adult centers, places of worship, and business groups.

What makes Kingsport Fire Department so popular? “A little humor, a lot of instruction, interaction, and practice,” Brickey says.

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 https://www.networkforphl.org/_asset/4cttgz/Report_Smoke-Alarm-Installation-Liability-7-3-19.pdf

 

 

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 www.strategicfire.org 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

The NFPA Public Education Network is made up of fire and life safety education representatives for every state and province who disseminate NFPA information to fire safety educators throughout their state or province. 

Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting success stories from network members. In this post we feature Fire Marshal Eric Guevin, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District. The Lake Tahoe area is a year-round destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The dazzling waters, mountain peaks and forests make it a magnet for travelers. This stimulates the local economy, but Fire Marshal Guevin says it raises concerns for fire protection district because many of the vacationers aren’t familiar with the area and there’s a certain type of rental they’re booking.

 “In Tahoe Douglas one in every five homes was an Airbnb type of rental,” he said. “A lot of the fires we had involved smoking materials not being discarded properly; people visiting didn’t understand the fire risk in our community so they would discard cigarettes directly into the wildland and brush.”

Another danger involved wood-burning appliances. Owners and visitors were not disposing of ashes properly. Chimneys were not being cleaned. Education has been key to addressing these problems, he said.

“We do a lot of education to let the ash cool before it’s disposed of in the regular trash stream. We also put dumpsters outside of our fire stations; the community can dump into the ash dumpsters so that the ash can cool.”

Strengthening enforcement power was another critical step in improving safety,” he said. The fire district was able to obtain a code change—a change of use—so that these short-term rentals fall under the purview of the Authority Having Jurisdiction, the fire marshal. “Because it’s a special operational permit you can put your requirements on there. This gives you the legal right to be in a home, because it is open to the public. It’s not a private domicile, they’re not just living there.  It’s open to the public.”

“If they have an occupancy of 10 or more we actually have the owner post their occupancy and post an egress plan on the bedroom door so they know how many people can stay there and how they would get out. We instituted changes to make sure the fire extinguishers are in place, that they are the right size, and that it’s a safe environment for visitors.”

He added that inspections are being done to make sure that smoke alarms are in place, that they’re working, and that they’re interconnected.

Another big concern is making sure visitors know what to do if there is a wildfire. Guevin says the fire district has directed owners to make that information readily available to renters. 

“The big thing for us too is we wanted people to know escape plans, how to get out of the house, and also, emergency evacuation plans in the event of a wildfire, what radio stations to tune to and then what routes and safe zones are in their community. They may not be familiar with the area so in each home the owner includes a brochure that has that information for the renter. It’s usually in a binder for them.”

In his role as NFPA Public Education Network Representative Fire Marshal Guevin encouraged NFPA to produce a safety handout for renters of peer-to-peer hospitality services. The Fire Safety at Your Home Away from Home checklist is a frequently downloaded educational tool.

 

Cover image of July Safety Source

The July issue of Safety Source, the Public Education newsletter provides cautions in an around the water with our Marina and Boating tip sheet, a fun family Fire Prevention Week activity in the form of a fire escape checklist, and details on the recently released NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. There’s also much, much more.

Cover issue of June Safety Source

The June issue of Safety Source, the Public Education newsletter, sizzles with a “hot dog” of a Father’s Day e-card from Sparky the Fire Dog®, helpful hints on how to stay safe while traveling in the RV or camper this summer, and the highly anticipated details about this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme. There’s also much, much more.

Cover image of Desk Reference. Safety Words in French

For years the NFPA Educational Messages Desk Reference has been the “go-to” document for fire and life safety educators looking for accurate and consistent burn and fire safety messaging to use when providing information to the public. Now the document is reaching a broader audience–French Canadian speakers. The 2019 NFPA Educational Messages French Canadian Edition is available on NFPA’s Canadian Fire Education Materials page as well as the Educational Messaging page. We express thanks to the catalysts behind this effort– Laura King, NFPA’s Public Education Representative for Canada, Paul Dainton, public education network representative in Nunavut, the government translators, and the Nunavut Office of the Fire Marshal. A Spanish edition of the Desk Reference is in the works.

Summer boating season is here. Recreational boaters are encouraged to be responsible through public awareness campaigns, such as National Safe Boating Week, which concluded on May 24th and National Fishing and Boating Week, which takes place June 2-10.  According to the National Safety Council, more than 11 million recreational vessels are registered in the U.S., an indication that many, many people are enjoying time on and in the water. It’s important to stay safe by being prepared for emergencies and exercising good judgment. NFPA’s Marina & Boating Safety tip sheet explains how to avoid electrical hazards in and around the water as well as the dangers of carbon monoxide.

As NFPA works alongside the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to increase electrical safety awareness throughout May—National Electrical Safety Month—we take a look at electrical safety around the home. The home electrical safety section of the ESFI website, along with NFPA’s home electrical safety materials, including the entertaining while informative “A Shocking Revelation” video, provide basic electrical safety principles to help educate homeowners, consumers, older adults, and children.

National Electrical Safety Month was introduced by ESFI in the mid-1990s to bring awareness to home electrical safety. Home electrical fires can start in wiring, electrical distribution systems, and lighting equipment, as well as any equipment powered by electricity, such as cooking, heating, office and entertainment equipment, washers, and dryers.

generator safety

 

As NFPA works alongside the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to increase electrical safety awareness throughout May—National Electrical Safety Month—we take a look at portable generator safety. ESFIs Generator Safety Infographic and NFPA’s tip sheet on portable generator safety provide tips on proper installation and use of generators as well as statistics on high-risk groups, causes of fatalities, and the importance of having working carbon monoxide alarms.

National Electrical Safety Month was introduced by ESFI in the mid-1990s to bring awareness to home electrical safety. Home electrical fires can start in wiring, electrical distribution systems, and lighting equipment, as well as any equipment powered by electricity, such as cooking, heating, office and entertainment equipment, washers, and dryers.

The campaign highlights safety activities throughout the month that can be used by safety advocates, educators and consumers.

 

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