String of Tragic New Hampshire Fires Exposes Gaps in Smoke Alarm Protection

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Over the past few decades, there have been great strides in public awareness around home fire safety and prevention. One example of this success is around smoke alarms, which shows that most homes now have at least one installed. But even with measures of progress, we continue to see that more work needs to be done around better educating people about the critical importance of properly installing, testing, and maintaining smoke alarms.

 In New Hampshire,have occurred in 2020, collectively claiming the lives of eight people. The common thread between these tragic incidents is that none of the homes had working smoke alarms. In the last five years, 49 people have died in home fires in New Hampshire. In more than half of those fires, smoke alarms were not present. According to NFPA smoke alarm statistics, nearlyresult from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms. 

Following are NFPA requirements and recommendations around proper installation, testing and maintenance of smoke alarms:

Use this

10-minute mini-lesson

to deliver smoke alarm information in an easily sharable format, along with our other

smoke alarm resources

to better educate your community about their importance and value.

Attend Upcoming Facebook Live Event Addressing Ways to Promote Winter Fire Safety in your Community during COVID-19

By Fire Safety, NFPA

With the December, January, and February representing the leading months for home fires, fire departments typically work to better educate their communities about potential fire hazards during the winter months and ways to reduce associated risks. This winter season, however, many departments are wondering how they can reach out to residents during the pandemic.

With those concerns in mind, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is hosting a Facebook Live event on Monday, November 16, offering tips and suggestions for safely and effectively communicating winter fire safety messages to communities amidst COVID-19. The discussion will be led by Lt. Michael O. McLeieer, past president of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association, Andrea Vastis, senior director of public education at NFPA, Teresa Neal, fire program specialist at the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), and Blaise Harris, fire and life safety educator at the Rocky Mount (NC) Fire Department. Registration is not required. The event will be broadcast live on the NVFC’s Facebook page (@nvfc1) on November 16 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Mark your calendar for this lively, informational event: Winter Fire Safety: Engaging & Educating Your Community During COVID-19 

Public Educators and Fire and Life Safety Professionals Learn New Ways to Improve their Efforts at SOPE 2020

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Theconference went virtual this year, featuring four professionally led workshops that provided fire & life safety educators, injury prevention, and public education leaders with knowledge and networking opportunities to address public education in today’s world.Here are some of the highlights, if you missed out.

“Hoarding: From Enforcement to Engagement”

This workshop highlighted the risks to residents and first responders from hoarding, along with methods to address these situations for the safety and well-being of all involved. Hoarding is a complex issue that can affect people from all socioeconomic levels and types of housing. Hoarding behavior is indicated by excessive accumulation inside or outside the home combined with an inability to give/toss anything away. In hoarding situations, residents have an increased risk of falls, fire, and exacerbating their chronic conditions due to the inability to find things, use the kitchen/bathrooms, and unsanitary and cluttered conditions. First responders find their ability to deal with fires and other emergencies at a higher risk due to increased fire load and the lack of clear pathways to maneuver through the home.Once hoarding behavior has been identified, there are a number of ways to address the resident:

“Community Risk Assessment: The First Chapter in Your CRR Story”

Conducting a Community Risk Assessment (CRA) is the vital first step of

Community Risk Reduction (CRR)

, a process that helps communities recognize potential risks and develop proactive plans to alleviate them, improving safety outcomes for residents and first responders. This session helped public educators and first responders explore how to use their data as a strong launch-pad into addressing specific risks in their communities.

 South County Fire was able to use their CRA to identify areas of the county that produced higher call volumes requesting COVID-19 tests. With the tools gained from the NFPA CRA pilot project, they introduced a set of education campaigns and new procedures that is beginning to create a decrease in those calls. Windsor used the dashboard to more accurately track their demographics, leading to COVID-19 outreach that focused on high-density areas and new materials that better reflect the community.

To put yourbest foot forward in completing a Community Risk Assessment for CRR, remember:

Fire departments can also apply to be a part of the next phase of NFPA’s
. For more information, please contact our CRR team at
 “Taking your education programs virtually anywhere”

Fire and life safety educators gained a deeper understanding of how to engage with their participants in a virtual world and enhance their experiences by using digital tools, tips and tricks. Taking presentations online can be a great way to meet the audience where they are, increase convenience, reach a larger audience, and open collaboration opportunities. They are fun, interactive, and help participants take in information at their own pace with recording and re-watching capabilities.When considering what virtual tools work for you, remember t…

NFPA Receives Grant to Enhance Remembering When™ Fire and Falls Prevention Program for Older Adults, Helping Broaden its Scale a…

By Fire Safety, NFPA

NFPA has received a $526,000 grant from theprogram in support of reducing fires and falls among older adults, a key high-risk population. The fundingwill help broaden the reach and scale ofthrough the development of updated digital training and resources, which are used by public health and safety officials for implementation in their communities.  People ages 65 and older comprise 16% of the total US population, but experience a disproportionate percentage of injuries and deaths from fires and falls; nearly one in three seniors (17 million people) suffers a fall each year. The fire service and EMS now see more fall victims than fire victims, often being called to the same homes repeatedly for falls. This reliance on the fire service presents a unique opportunity for fire and elder care services to work together to provide needed assistance and services to older adults. In order to more fully and effectively meet those growing needs, the reach, scope, and scale of the Remembering When program must be broadened and strengthened. Through the grant funding, NFPA will create new educational assets and a process to monitor local program activity and collect key data, and to develop online learning modules that deliver training to greater numbers of fire and elder/public health professionals. The funding will also work to expand Remembering When messaging to include information around proper use of medication. Year one of the project will focus on development of these resources; year two will focus on pilot testing them. In order to meet the project’s objectives, NFPA will work with numerous partners for subject matter and technical expertise, as well as program guidance. Partners include the multi-disciplinary Remembering When Advisory Group, Fire and Life Safety Education stakeholders, the NFPA Educational Messaging Advisory Group, the National Disability Rights Network, the University of Iowa’s School of Public Health, and the Fire Protection Research Foundation. 

Keep Fire Safety in Mind When Using Outdoor Portable Heaters and Other Outdoor Equipment during Cooler Months

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Over the past several months, outdoor gatherings have served as an effective way for friends and family to connect while minimizing exposure to the coronavirus. As temperatures drop in many parts of the country, outdoor portable heaters, fire pits, chimineas and campfires are being used to help comfortably extend social activities for as long as reasonably possible. While these types of outdoor equipment can continue to be used safely, it’s important to remember that they do present potential fire hazards. Fortunately, these risks can be significantly reduced by following basic but important tips and recommendations: 
Use fuel and fire starters properly
Never leave equipment unattended
Carefully consider placement of equipment, keeping anything that can burn well away
If a fire breaks out, call the fire department
If you’re a local official working to ensure that outdoor portable heaters are used properly and safely at restaurants and other businesses in your community, our new “Outdoor Heater Safety” fact sheet provides guidance and recommendations for safe usage, including proper storage of propane tanks, in accordance with NFPA 1, Fire Code.We also have a wealth of free, downloadable public education resources addressing fire and life safety issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to check them out!

Hoarding: From Enforcement to Engagement

By Fire Safety, NFPA

    Hoarding criteria include the inability to use living space for its intended purpose. Compulsive hoarding behavior among residents increases the risk of serious injury and death to both the resident and to responding fire service personnel. The excessive accumulation of materials in homes increases risk of falls, exacerbation of chronic illness and impedes successful escape in the event of fire.  Hoarding situations also pose a significant threat to fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to neighboring residents. Often, the fire department is the first to identify this behavior in the home and, working with community partners, can address this complex issue. is just one of the four expert-developed workshops featured in the2020, virtual conference, taking place Tuesday, October 27th from 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST.  This presentation will identity the characteristics of hoarding behavior and examine the hazards that loom during emergency response in hoarding conditions. It will provide assistance in the identification of resources in your community that are needed to develop a task force and allow you to engage with task force professionals who can answer questions that exist around the social, psychological and environmental considerations that play a part of the treatment for a person who hoards. This session is appropriate for Fire & Life Safety Educators, Elder Service, Public Health, and Injury Prevention professionals. and learn from your peers the challenges and successes in working with community partners to support resident health and safety.  Other SOPE workshops feature Falls Prevention among Older Adults, Community Risk Assessment, and Integrating Technology into Education Programs, as well as Networking Roundtables and dedicated NFPA Resource Center.  All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for registrantsso if you have to step away from your computer, you won’t miss a thing.  Join the over 1000 public education professionals who have already registered for this event! Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on   and  to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.

Local Utah Fire Department Service Project Reminds Us About the Value of Collaboration and the Importance of Safety During Fire …

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Earlier this month, NFPA learned about a  that embodies the true spirit of collaboration as it relates to fire and life safety.The story takes place in Draper, Utah where the  was recently asked by the Grossinger family to help with a wildfire mitigation project around their home. According to local news reports, as the department began working, they noticed something amiss: the home’s sprinkler and smoke alarm systems needed updating. But this was not a typical upgrade – it was something a bit more special because the parents and the older daughter in the family are deaf and have been reliant on their younger son who can hear, to alert them when the smoke alarms sounded or if there was a fire in the home.Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the Draper Fire Department immediately reached out to area partners who agreed to provide special smoke alarms that visually flash to alert deaf occupants, and to work on repairing and updating the home’s residential fire sprinklers. Soon after the initial contact from the fire department, the companies began work in the home.The service project was organized as part of  (FPW), which ran from October 4 – 10. According to Draper fire officials, the project was intended not only to serve as a reminder for other homeowners to review their own fire safety measures during the week of the campaign, but to do so all year long. As part of the project, the department provided information and tips related to this year’s FPW campaign theme, “Serving Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” to help raise awareness of the common causes of home cooking fires and ways to prevent them.The story of the Grossinger Family is a heartening one, and one that reminds us that the work we do for Fire Prevention Week is important to the security and well- being of communities everywhere. As fire safety advocates, it is crucial that all of us recognize and take full advantage of the campaign not just in October but throughout the year. Thanks to the hard work of the Draper Fire Department and their partners, individuals and families in Utah and beyond are inspired to become their own advocates for, and embrace their personal role in, this important system of safety.Learn more about the  campaign, and get tips and resources to help keep your family safe from fire by visiting .

Face-to-face Education Programs are Rapidly Becoming a Thing of the Past. Now What?

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Search the term “Virtual Education” on-line, and a never-ending list of news articles, editorials both for and against, and advertisements promoting virtual learning platforms will fill your screen.   As we are still in the throes of COVD-19 restrictions and uncertainty, Fire & Life Safety (FLS) and Public Educators find themselves fast-tracking their conversion of in person activities to virtual options.  is just one of the four expert-developed workshops featured in the2020, virtual conference, taking place Tuesday, October 27th from 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST.  Thisdynamic session will engage and enhance putting digital tools, tips and tricks into participant hands. Delivered by Brene Duggins, Fire Prevention Coordinator for the Holly Grove FD, and Media Coordinator of the Holly Grove High School in Davidson County, NC, this session is appropriate for FLS educators, school and community health educators, injury prevention professionals and anyone trying to reach their population in a virtual world.  (hint: registration link works best in Chrome/Firefox/Safari) to take part in this and other SOPE workshops: Falls Prevention among Older Adults, Community Risk Assessment, and Hoarding as a Community Issue, as well as participating in Networking Roundtables and dedicated NFPA Resource Center.  All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for registrantsso if you have to step away from your computer, you won’t miss a thing.  Join the over 1100 public education professionals who have already registered for this event and step up your virtual education game. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on   and  to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.