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June 2015

Homemade sparkler decorations: a great family project for the Fourth of July

By | Fire Safety, NFPA | No Comments

Sparklers play a huge role in Fourth of July preparations but as you know, NFPA wants you to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Each year on Independence Day, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks.

Few people really understand the associated risks including devastating burns, fires, and even death.

The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks is a group of health and safety organizations, coordinated by NFPA, that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

This Fourth of July, opt out of using consumer fireworks and check out these three simple DIY projects from our friends at MarthaStewart.com. These paper sparkler ideas offer a great alternative to the real thing and are a great family project that everyone will have fun doing together.

This weekend, enjoy the holiday in style and with fire safety in mind. Happy Fourth, everyone!

Michigan man fatally wounded this past weekend while handling consumer fireworks

By | Fire Safety, NFPA | No Comments

Each year when we promote fireworks safety, we get a lot of flak from people who think our stance is downright absurd. In response to yesterday’s Facebook post, which stated that there’s no safe way to use consumer fireworks, one person commented, “That is the dumbest statement I’ve read today, I’ve never met one person injured by fireworks.”

Ban on fireworks image

Anyone who tracks fireworks injuries knows that thousands of people are, in fact, injured from fireworks each year. Many of those injuries are serious or even fatal. Just this past weekend in Michigan, a 47-year-old man died when a large mortar fireworks shell he was holding next to his head exploded.

According to Walled Lake, MI, Police Chief Paul Shakinas, when first responders arrived, they found the man unresponsive, not breathing, and suffering from severe trauma to the back of his head.

“Hands down, the worst I’ve ever seen,” Shakinas said. “I’ve seen (fireworks) accidents, but never causing a fatality. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Firefighters and first responders can attest to the damage fireworks cause each year. An article in today's Boston Globe today reinforced that message. According to Rick DeLorie, Wellesley, MA, fire chief and president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, firefighters respond “to all types of fires and medical emergencies” over the holiday because of fireworks. “In fact, July 4 is the busiest day for fires after Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Massachusetts officials also noted that over the past year, rescuers have responded to several fireworks incidents resulting in car and home damage, serious burns, and, in one case, the amputation of a person’s hand.

NY State legislature passes bill requiring all battery-operated smoke alarms include non-removable,10-year batteries

By | Fire Safety, NFPA | No Comments

Smoke alarms can make the difference between life and death in a fire, but they have to be working. That’s a message the New York State legislature clearly understands. Last week, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation requiring all battery-operated smoke alarms sold in New York State be equipped with non-removable, 10-year batteries. Smoke_alarm

The bill, which is now pending Governor Cuomo's signature, prompted applause from Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) President Robert McConville. “As firefighters, we frequently encounter the horrific effects of fires in homes without working smoke alarms,” McConville said. “This bill makes New York State a safer place and will undoubtedly go a long way toward preventing future home fire deaths. We look forward to working with the Governor in the coming weeks to see this bill become law.”

NFPA requires a smoke alarm in each bedroom, near all sleeping areas and on every level of the home, including the basement, and smoke alarms should be tested monthly. For more information on smoke alarm safety, visit www.nfpa.org/smokealarms.

FPW poster helps broaden the campaign’s reach

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FPW15 Poster Use this oneThe staff of the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Illinois purchased NFPA educational materials last year for the “Youth Firefighter Challenge,” the museum’s fire safety summer camp, and staff members were thrilled when they placed another order for this year’s camp because of a new feature among the Fire Prevention Week catalog items–the FPW poster is FPW15back Spanishtwo-sided. One side is in English and the other is in Spanish.

“We have discovered that many of the campers’ parents and grandparents aren’t able to read English,” says Aurora Regional Fire Museum Development Director Mark Baum. “This new poster provides us with valuable information.”

Campers are taught fire safety, physical fitness, and life skills. More than 1,600 children participate. Camp counselors, who are studying fire science during the school year, are employed as firefighter explorers.

Baum says that by purchasing the poster, the FPW theme, “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm,” reaches a much broader audience in Aurora.

Related articles

Lights, camera, action for community honoring fire and life safety educator of the year

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When the citizens of Worcester, Massachusetts, found out that Lt. Annmarie Pickett had been chosen the 2015 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year and would receive the award at NFPA Conference they wanted to give her a sendoff she would never forget.

Not only was she given the key to the city at a recent city council meeting, she was also honored with a video tribute. The six-minute video highlights her work and includes on-camera testimonials from the mayor, city manager, the fire chief, staff and participants of the Worcester Senior Center, and her mom.

Lt. Pickett talked to me later about how much she loves her job and how touched she was by the video. She says she is grateful for all of the training and support she has gotten throughout her career from NFPA and other groups and organizations. She has used both Learn Not to Burn® and the Remembering When™ program in her work.

Lt. Pickett is known for her steadfast commitment to bringing fire and life safety messages to as Annmarie gets award many people as possible. Under her leadership, the Worcester Fire Department public education division in 2014 conducted more than 700 workshops reaching 40,000 residents compared to 10 workshops reaching 161 residents in 2008, just before she joined the division.

She has fostered a partnership between two groups at high-risk of fire: older adults and young children, forming an intergenerational partnership between the senior center and a nearby elementary school.

She received the educator of the year award from NFPA Board of Directors Chairman Ernest Grant in a ceremony during the conference general session.

Related articles

There’s no safe way to use consumer fireworks! Attend public displays put on by trained professionals

By | Fire Safety, NFPA | No Comments

There’s no safe way to use consumer fireworks. If that sounds a bit Debbie Downer, we get it. Fireworks are festive and even mesmerizing at times. But take a look at these statistics, and our firm stance on fireworks safety starts to make a lot of sense:

Debbie Downer

  • On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire.
  • Over 11,000 injuries resulted from consumer use of fireworks in 2013.
  • More than half of fireworks injuries in 2013 were to extremities, including the hand or finger, leg and arm. Most of the remaining injuries were to parts of the head, including the eye.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2012 Fireworks Annual Report shows that two out of five people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for the children under five, followed by children 10 to 14 years of age. Males accounted for 57 percent of the injuries overall.

So how can you celebrate the holiday safely? Attend professional fireworks displays put on by trained professionals. Let’s face it, they’re far more spectacular than anything you’d see in someone’s back yard. Even Debbie Downer would be hard-pressed to complain.

Check out our fireworks safety page for videos like the one below and infographics to learn just how dangerous consumer fireworks can be. More fireworks statistics can be found in our 2013 Fireworks Report.

 

Make sure your car does not start a wildfire

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Due to the extreme conditions in some areas such as low humidity in the vegetation, extended periods of drought, high temperatures and high winds, extreme caution should be paramount in everyday activities out of doors.  Driving a car is one of the activities we all enjoy during the summer season, especially as we travel for summer vacation time.  Make sure that your road trip is not the cause of a wildfire.  The Arizona Department of Transportation shared some tips: Fire Car

  • Avoid driving or parking your vehicle in tall grass. (Or any tall dry vegetation)
  • Never throw a burning cigarette out of a vehicle.
  • When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires.
  • Look behind you before driving away from fire-sensitive locations, such as areas with tall grass or campsites, to check for signs of a developing fire.
  • Observe “Red Flag” fire-weather warnings. These warnings are issued when weather conditions are conducive to the easy start and rapid spread of wildfires.
  • Always use a spark arrestor on internal-combustion engines.

You can also:

  • Follow all public-use restrictions and access closures – It is important to check with local agencies about any closures before venturing off road.
  • Be prepared – Carry a shovel and a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and OHV.
  • Call 911 immediately if you see a roadside fire and give an accurate description of the size and location of the fire including mile marker information, the side of the road (are you traveling east, west etc.), the last exit you passed or nearest landmark.
    Img_0297

    Image of car fire in Boise from the Bureau of Land Management

Car Fires themselves can be a cause of wildfires.  A June 14th 2015 article in the Boise Weekly, Car Fire Sparks Wildfire Near Jump Creek, shared that; "Firefighters say a car fire—the third in one week—sparked a wildfire that has scorched more than 330 acres, eight miles south of Marsing."  Another article dated June 19th 2015 on the KCRA.com website, Roadside Truck Fire Sparks Wildfire Near Oakhurst, talked about a pickup truck that caused a fire near Oakhurst, California that burnt hundreds of acres. 

Many times simple maintenance items overlooked can cause your car to catch fire.  The NFPA has some interesting statistics on car fires:

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year in 2006-2010. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage.

Facts and Figures
  • Automobile fires were involved in 10% of reported U.S. fires, 6% of U.S. fire deaths.
  • On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour. These fires killed an average of four people every week.
  • Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in roughly two-thirds of the automobile fires.
  • Collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, but these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths.
  • Only 2% of automobile fires began in fuel tanks or fuel lines, but these incidents caused 15% of the automobile fire death.

You can take simple steps to prevent a car fire: Carsafety

• Have your car serviced regularly by a professionally
trained mechanic. If you spot leaks, your car is not
running properly, get it checked. A well-maintained
car is less likely to have a fire.
• If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small
amount in a certified gas can that is sealed. Keep a
window open for ventilation.
• Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be
transported in the passenger compartment.
• Never park a car where flammables, such as grass,
are touching the catalytic converter.
• Drive safely to avoid an accident.

For more information about car fire safety download the NFPA's car fire safety pdf.  Enjoy your road trip wherever your travel plans take you and have a safe and memorable time.

 

 

Sparky chats with fans in Chicago about smoke alarms

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While in Chicago, for NFPA Conference & Expo, Sparky stopped by Millennium Park to chat with some of his fans. One of Sparky's favorite things is being able to talk with people about fire safety, so we brought him out on the street and chatted with a bunch of fans to see just how much they knew about smoke alarms. 

We asked questions like, "Name 3 rooms in your home that need a smoke alarm," and "How long do you have to escape your home after a smoke alarm sounds?" and even "How often should you replace your smoke alarm?" Would you know the answers to these questions if Sparky asked you on the street?! We will be working on some fun videos showcasing everyone's answers in time for Fire Prevention Week, so stay tuned!

Educator of the Year receives key to the city

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When Lt. Annmarie Pickett, public education officer for the Worcester Fire Department in Massachusetts, was told by her supervisor that she needed to be at this week’s city council meeting, she figured city officials wanted to be briefed on the partnerships she’s been forming and outreach Keys to the city 3efforts made following a recent fire fatality.

However, when she got to council chambers she realized that officials had something else in mind. Lt. Pickett, NFPA’s 2015 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year was presented with the key to the city in recognition of her commitment to fire safety and her many achievements.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “Somehow they snuck my parents and kids into council chambers.”  She says she is grateful for all of the training and support she has gotten throughout her career from NFPA and other groups and organizations. She has used both Learn Not to Burn® and the Remembering When™ program in her work.

“For my partnerships and relationship building, you are seeing the results of what everyone taught me. Everyone brought me to this point. I’m very thankful.”

Statewide hoarding task force kicks off at North Carolina Education Conference

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IMG_5021hoarding
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the kickoff to the North Carolina (NC) hoarding task force.  At the 39th annual NC Education Conference, it was announced that the task force was up and running.  This task force was a result of a workshop over three years ago offered by NFPA about Hoarding for the Fire Service.  Besides conducting workshops, the staff at NFPA has been working on programs to offer at state meetings and tips for consumers.  The safety tip sheet that can be used to educate firefighters on the dangers of hoarding is available as well as an NFPA Journal articles online.  I am excited about the resources and help that this statewide task force will give to local fire marshals and fire departments in NC.  Congratulations NC!