National Fire Prevention Week: Educating Your Community

ESO Staff

While firefighting technologies continue to advance at lightening speed, it’s perhaps surprising that members are the community are actually more likely to die in a home fire today than they were three decades ago. In fact, four out of five fire deaths occur at home each year, with the fire death rate reaching numbers 10 percent higher than in 1980. 

These statistics are the motivation for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which runs from Oct. 7-13, 2018. National Fire Prevention Week is a national movement created to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that started October 8, 1871 and killed more than 250 people, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.  

Today – almost 100 years after its original presidential proclamation – Fire Prevention Week continues to be a rallying point for fire agencies, educators, and public health and safety officials to actively educate their communities on best practices for fire prevention and response. The 2018 theme for outreach focuses primarily on home fire safety, with the theme: “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” 

The official Fire Prevention site features numerous resources for fire agencies, including a sample press release, a sample citywide proclamation, free talking points for interacting with the media, educational videos, and ready-to-post social media images and messages. Additionally, many tools suitable for members of the public and educators are available on the site, like free lesson plans and resources to educate on fire prevention topics including: 

  • Look: Look for potential fire hazards around the home and take care of them. 
  • Listen: Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm and react properly. 
  • Learn: Learn two ways out of every room in your house.  

A special section on the Fire Prevention Week site also focuses on other members of the public considered “at risk,” noting that fire prevention education is not just for schoolchildren. In fact, other than children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65 are the second highest at-risk population for fatal home fires.  

And in terms of non-fatal fires, the risk is actually highest for those between 20 and 49, showing that fire safety education is essential for everyone. Additional risk factors include race, socio-economic status, education level, and geographic location. Fire prevention is a vital topic for all people and this week is the perfect time for refresher information, or as motivation to create escape routes or response plans. 

The statistics driving this year’s theme come from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), a global, non-profit organization founded in 1896, and an active partner in Fire Prevention Week for the last 90 years. NFPA works with local fire departments throughout North America to promote the campaign in their communities to help encourage and educate the public to promote fire safety. 

For more information and the free tools for fire departments, visit http://www.firepreventionweek.org. 

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