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The staff, instructors and aides of the Delaware State Fire School (DSFS) had a busy schedule during Fire Prevention Week season. Beginning in early September through early November it is estimated that DSFS operated 115 programs in fire safety, school tours, injury prevention, and displays. Programs took place across the state. Program administrators Mike Lowe and Kim O’Malley sincerely thank the instructors and aides as well as the fire safety officials of the individual fire departments and organizations that made Fire Prevention Week 2019 a success.

Entrance to theme park

This past week, one of my best girlfriends and I flew to Florida and spent an evening at Universal Studios Orlando Resort at Halloween Horror Nights. The Halloween-themed extravaganza included haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment featuring many Universal Studios characters. As Joyce and I strolled through the park, zombies, the walking dead, nurses covered in blood, and creatures wielding chain saws leaped out at us through the fog. It was fabulous.

Wanting more frights, we entered a haunted house–actually, a sound stage converted into the setting of the spine-tingling 2019 Jordan Peele horror movie, Us–in which a family arrives at their summer home and is attacked by a group of menacing doppelgangers. Once we and dozens of others entered the sound stage’s darkened labyrinth, objects and people jumped out at us and sound effect screams and growls gave our eardrums a workout.

I wasn’t too frightened, but more concerned about safety. I wondered what would happen if somebody tripped over the “dead bodies” if they got too close to them or lost their balance because they were startled by the creatures. If someone panicked, could there be a stampede?

I breathed easier when I thought back to the attendant outside of the attraction who used a counter device to click off how many of us were allowed to go in at a time. And once in the house I was relieved that at every corner, in every room, there was a theme park employee pointing us in the right direction and monitoring the activity in case problems arose.

Many of us will experience Halloween this evening, either in costume, or giving treats. Let’s not forget about potential tripping hazards as outlined in our Be Safe Halloween tip sheet.

      
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.
  •   
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.
  •   
  • If children wear masks, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.

If you participate in this spook-tacular observance, have a happy Halloween that is frightful, fun and free of tripping hazards.

 

Every year Halloween brings out excited children dressed in costumes running door to door to trick-or-treat as well as adults who dress up and head out to parties or make their own rounds through the neighborhood to acquire a sack full of candy. Homes inside and out are adorned with festive decorations, glowing jack-o-lanterns, and paper ghosts. Dried cornstalks bedeck front porches and walkways.

Unfortunately, these Halloween traditions can also present fire risks that have the potential to become dangerous. But by planning ahead, you can help make this Halloween a safe one. The Halloween Safety page on the NFPA website is the gateway to a library of simple precautions, safety tips, videos, and educational materials for trick-or-treaters of all ages.

The Halloween Safety tip sheet includes fire safety precautions, such as making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant.

The Candle Safety tip sheet includes the precaution to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles.

The Halloween Safety Tips for Children video offers a number of tips for preventing fires.

All of these tools can help to keep the holiday both safe and fun.

Millions of people across the world are renting or hosting peer-to-peer hospitality services, such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner. According to property management experts, on any given night, two million people are staying in Airbnb rentals somewhere in the world. Safety requirements vary across jurisdictions and not all facilities are regulated. Two new infographics that NFPA created in partnership with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Neighborhood Safety Network give tips for landlords and renters designed to create a safer rental.

 

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 Prevention Coordinator Stephanie Stafford, Oregon State Police/ Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Stephanie Stafford, Oregon - Member of the NFPA Public Education Network

When asked to identify a success in her state in terms of fire and life safety, Stephanie Stafford cites the smoke alarm/carbon monoxide (CO) alarm program, which provides training to real estate agents and property managers on the law.

“When a home is sold in Oregon it has to have adequate protection. We’re educating real estate agents so that when they’re working with clients they make sure that they have the proper smoke alarms and CO alarms installed in their homes.”

She also said that she and her colleagues work with landlords to make sure they are providing adequate smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties as required by law.

Different strategies are used to reach the audience. “We train real estate associations, so it’s a group of realtors in the local county or jurisdiction, or we’ll train a real estate agency and all of their staff.”

Another approach is regional trainings. These are scheduled throughout the state and then marketed to all of the agencies in that area.

Stafford considers the program a “win-win.” “It helps real estate agents earn continuing education units and it ensures that we have more homes with adequate protection.”

 

 

Church Steeple

Places of worship are known for their open-door policy, welcoming all. They are also known for their rituals that often involve candles, and celebrations and socials that include food preparation. National Church Safety Month is a time for heightening awareness on preventing fires and injuries and reviewing ways to be secure in the worship setting.

Cooking Safety

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking or have someone else monitor what’s cooking if you have to step away.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains–away from the stovetop.
  • If you have a small grease fire and decide to fight the fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid on the pan and turning off the burner. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you have any doubts about fighting a small fire, just get out and have everyone else in the building evacuate. Call 9-1-1 from outdoors.

Candles Safety

  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
  • Handheld candles should not be passed from one person to another at any time.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, enclose it in a glass container and place it in a sink, or on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.
  • Places of worship should be equipped with a fire detection and sprinkler system.

Safety in Public Assembly

Before you enter the building

  • Take a good look at it. Does it appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable.
  • Have a communication plan, identifying a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency or if you become separated.
  • Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends in an emergency.

When you enter the building

  • Locate the exits.
  • Check for clear exit paths. Make sure aisles are wide enough and not blocked by chairs or other furnishings
  • React immediately if the fire alarm system sounds or you notice some other unusual disturbance, immediately exit the building in orderly fashion.

For more precautions for places of worship check out NFPA’s Safety in Places of Public Assembly, Religious Safety, and Cooking Safety tip sheets.

Young people raking a lawn

During this fourth week of National Preparedness Month, we’re focusing on community involvement, specifically how to get involved on a community level with disaster preparedness. Many communities have voluntary organizations that are activated during disasters. You can find out more from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. It is an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters and fosters more effective delivery of services. Community Emergency Response Teams train volunteers to prepare for the types of disasters that their community may face.

In terms of fire emergencies, you can prepare your community with these Fire Prevention Week “must-haves.” In addition, NFPA’s Get Ready! Preparing Your Community for a Disaster includes fact sheets firefighters, first responders, and others can use in times of crisis or to prepare in case of one.

 

For ideas for getting young people involved in preparations in case of a wildfire or flooding, check out the latest blog from my colleague, Megan Fitzgerald McGowan.

During this third week of National Preparedness Month, we’re reminded that young people can play a big role in preparedness programs.  Disaster planning, response, and recovery efforts must take into account the unique needs of children, who make up roughly a quarter of the U.S. population.

 

It’s a good time to assess the self-sufficiency of adolescents and teens when it comes to protecting themselves from fire. NFPA’s lesson plan: Home Fire Safety–Teens Who Care for Themselves at Home is a teaching tool public educators, school teachers and other can use for presentations. By the end of the lesson, participants should be able to view fire safety behaviors as an important part of gaining responsibility and describe at least five important home fire safety actions for teens who stay home alone.

 

The Making Safe and Responsible Choices lesson plan, also designed for this age group, assists                                                                                           participants accurately rate the level of risk in                                                                                           behaviors and apply responsible decision-making.

 

 

 

 

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 role 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

 

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