Monthly Archives

May 2015

Add safety to the Mother’s Day menu

By Fire Safety, NFPA

For Mother’s Day, my father and I like to take my mother and an aunt to a fine dining restaurant in the Connecticut countryside that features a floor to ceiling stone fireplace and panoramic view of a lush landscape. We make the rounds at the buffet, which includes an omelet station, carved filet mignon, shrimp and scallop scampi and dozens of other choices of diet-busting meals and desserts.

Once we’ve filled our plates and taken our seats in the grand ballroom, the wait staff serves us our coffee. As I look around at the other 275 diners, I can’t help but wonder if we could all exit in an orderly fashion if there was a fire emergency and whether or not everyone knows their second way out if the front door becomes blocked as NFPA’s escape planning information advises.

NFPA’s Safety in Places of Public Assembly tips sheet is also a great resource and says the following:

  • Before you enter a building, take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a good condition that makes you feel comfortable?
  • Have a communications plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
  • Plan a meeting place. Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function.

The tips sheet also provides details on what to do when you enter the building and how to handle an emergency.

NFPA public education committee member is honored with award

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Angela D. Mickalide, PhD, MCHES, principal investigator and program director, Emergency Medical Services for Children's National Resource Center at Children’s National Health System and member of NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC), has received the 2015 American Burn Association Burn Prevention Award, presented at the opening plenary at the 47th Annual Meeting in Chicago last month. 

Over the course of her career, Dr. Mickalide has been engaged in fire and burn prevention initiatives.  At the Home Safety Council, she led education and outreach efforts for several award-winning FEMA-funded programs.

During her nearly two decades at Safe Kids Worldwide, she was responsible for the organization's domestic and global programs, as well as its research in unintentional childhood injury risk areas, including fire and burn safety programs.

Dr. Mickalide has been a member of EMAC since 2011. The committee of fire and life safety experts meets periodically to review NFPA’s fire safety education messages and provide recommendations to NFPA public education staff for updating and revising the Educational Messages Desk Reference, a standardized guide of fire and life safety messages.

Thousands learn of the dangers of sky lanterns

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Sky lanterns have become increasingly popular as a way to celebrate. But they pose a serious fire hazard and their use is prohibited by NFPA. Thousands of spectators who attended a lantern festival recently in Gastonia, North Carolina, got to see the dangers of sky lanterns up close.

According to Time Warner News Cable–Charlotte, as the sun set on the Carolina Speedway, thousands of lanterns filled the sky. But then the wind shifted, pushing burning lanterns into a nearby cell tower, causing it to catch on fire.

The Union Road Volunteer Fire Department was already on hand in case of emergency, but the ladder truck couldn’t reach the fire, there were no hydrants nearby, and it wasn’t the kind of fire the department had fought before. It took 20 firefighters, nearly 6,000 gallons of water, and help from a neighboring department to put the fire out. No one was injured.

NFPA’s Sky Lanterns Safety tips sheet provides information on the hazards of sky lanterns and details on recent fires involving them.

If not for sprinkler system Minnesota fire could have been much worse

By Fire Safety, NFPA

A sprinkler system is being credited with containing a fire at a Minnesota senior citizen high rise this week.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the fire in the city of Hibbing drew a full response from the Hibbing Fire Department and neighboring departments. However, when firefighters arrived the fire had already been contained by the sprinkler system. The building houses senior citizen apartments, an Elks Club banquet center, and an orthodontics clinic.

Firefighters arrived in response to an automatic fire alarm that was triggered. They found smoke coming from a vent near the kitchen of the Elks Club and tenants starting to evacuate the building.

The fire was down to a smolder. Crews put out the remaining smoldering material and ventilated the smoke from the banquet room.

This incident underscores the importance of a home fire sprinkler system. NFPA’s High-rise Apartment and Condominium Safety tips sheet advises that for the best protection, select a fully sprinklered building and be prepared with an escape plan–know the location of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest exit is blocked by fire or smoke. If there is a fire, pull the alarm on your way out. The Home Fire Sprinklers section of the NFPA web site and the tips sheet provide background on how sprinkler systems work, their effectiveness, and cost.

Fire Marshal Fagerstrom determined that the fire was accidental. A steam table overheated and ignited a wood buffet table. He stressed the importance of having a properly maintained sprinkler system.

“The sprinkler system in this fire was serviced and maintained per code and did exactly as it should by containing the fire and keeping it from spreading,” he said in a news release.

Electrical safety takes center stage this month

By Fire Safety, NFPA

May is National Electrical Safety Month. The Electrical Safety Foundation International commemorates the occasion with an annual campaign to educate the public about steps to reduce electrical-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property losses.

According to NFPA's Electrical Fires report, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.

NFPA’s toolkit on electrical safety provides support materials to help fire departments conduct successful electrical safety campaigns in their communities, including talking points, community outreach ideas, printable PSA’s, media materials, and a video.

In addition, the electrical section of the NFPA website includes information on electrical safety in the home and the Electrical Safety tips sheet, which includes reminders on when to call in a qualified electrician or your landlord.

Burglar bars examined in fatal Texas fire

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Houston fire officials say that burglar bars made it difficult to get inside a home that caught fire last week. Two adults and a child died as a result of the blaze. According to click2houston.com, Donovan Johnson, 36, was trapped in the house and died at the scene. His pregnant fiancé, Tera Miles, 27, and her three-year-old daughter, Jah’ Niyah Walker, were taken to the hospital where they were pronounced dead.

"We had some access problems," said Senior Capt. Ruy Lozano of Houston Fire Department. "The structure had burglar bars all over, although it does keep crime out, it also keeps people in."

The escape planning section of NFPA’s website has the Clear Your Escape Routes brochure in English and Spanish on how to be safe without hindering escaping or being rescued in a fire.

Details are included on hurricane shutters, padlocks, plastic insulation, and security bars that come with a quick release mechanism.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.