NFPA statistics illuminate the child firesetting problem; in 2010, 44,000 fires were typically started by a child playing with fire, causing 90 civilian deaths and nearly 900 civilian injuries.
Three presenters at today's education session, "The Critical Role of Prevention in Reducing Youth Firesetting in a Community," discussed their preventative efforts at reducing these numbers.
"We can have the best youth intervention program on the planet, but it's not going to put a dent [in this problem] until we really understand primary prevention," says Paul Schwartzman with Fairport Counseling and Consulting Services in New York. Further underscoring the problem, Schwartzman took part in a developmmental study of grade-school children, with nearly 40 percent admitting to "misuse" of fire at some point in their lives.
A Canadian program, Kids First/Safety First, which provides educational information for fire safety and other topics, utilizes NFPA's safety materials, including the Learn Not to Burn® Preschool Program. The effectiveness of such programs, say the presenters, is evident; the Canadian city of Regina, which implemented the program, went from 30 inner city fires started by children in 2003 to three in 2012.
Download NFPA's safety tip sheet that offers additional tactics on mitigating child firesetting.
Judy Comoletti of NFPA's public education division, talks about a public safety event at the Children's Museum in Chicago on Monday, Jun 10. Hundreds of children showed up to meet Sparky the Fire Dog® and hear a story read about staying safe in the kitchen.
At today’s General Session in Chicago, Tracy Koslowski, public education/information manager of the Drexel Heights Fire District in Tucson, AZ, was named the 2013 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.
Ms. Koslowski oversees her district’s public education programs and represents it with the news media, along with performing fire marshal duties. She has pioneered innovative fire safety outreach programs to address all terrain vehicle (ATV) crashes, preteen and teenage fitness and fire preparedness, wheeled sports safety and child passenger safety, among others. With Ms. Koslowski at the helm, Drexel Heights Fire District partnered with district to create safety fair events that reached 5,000 residents.
Photo: Jeff Callen
Did you know that the site where the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is now home to the Chicago Fire Academy?
When I was visiting Chicago over this past New Year’s holiday, a friend, knowing that I worked for the National Fire Protection Association, drove me to the corner of Dekoven and Jefferson Streets in Chicago where the blaze began.
There’s a beautiful bronze sculpture called “Pillar of Fire” by artist Egon Weiner on the site.
Site of the origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871
The great Chicago fire began October 8, 1871, in the O'Leary barn on DeKoven Street. Fanned by a strong wind, in a city largely built of wood structures, the blaze raged for nearly 30 hours. Flames spread so far as Fullerton Avenue, before finally dying out in the early morning rain, October 10. Almost everything in the path of the fire had been destroyed.
Designated a Chicago Landmark on September 15, 1971, by the City Council of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, Mayor, Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate this fire, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week since 1922. You can learn more about this year’s campaign “Prevent Kitchen Fires” and download lots of free resources by visiting www.firepreventionweek.org.
Like any good story, the 'case of the cow' has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O'Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O'Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out - or that a jumpy cow sparked the blaze. Mrs. O'Leary herself swore that she'd been in bed early that night, and that the cows were also tucked in for the evening.
But if a cow wasn't to blame for the huge fire, what was? Over the years, journalists and historians have offered plenty of theories. Some blamed the blaze on a couple of neighborhood boys who were near the barn sneaking cigarettes. Others believed that a neighbor of the O'Leary's may have started the fire. Some people have speculated that a fiery meteorite may have fallen to earth on October 8, starting several fires that day - in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Chicago.
What do you think? Do you still blame Mrs. O’Leary’s cow? Let us know by clicking the "Comments" link below.
Canadian fire safety advocates discussed how they got the Toronto Blue Jays on board to promote NFPA’s educational messages throughout the country during today's well attended education session, “Swing into Summer Safety,”
Presenter Arthur Pullan, executive director of the the Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council, discussed how his organization recently resurrected a partnership with the Major League Baseball team and 200 Canadian fire departments to spread the word on fire and life safety through the Swing into Summer Safety Campaign. Specialized baseballs cards featuring NFPA safety tips complemented public service announcements (PSAs) featuring Blue Jays players promoting these tips. Some of the PSAs were shown during the education session.
Another success of the campaign was a Fire Safety Day at Rogers Centre, home of the Bue Jays, that included an appearance by NFPA's Sparky the Fire Dog. "We wanted to make sure we used NFPA's consistent messaging [for this campaign] and Sparky, since he's iconic," says Pullan. Due to the campaign's success, the Blue Jays extended their commitment with this campaign to three years.
Visit the Swing Into Summer Safety Campaign site for more information.
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"These aren't your grandfather's fires anymore," warns C. Stuart Baxter of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who underscored the increasing dangers of fires involving synthetic building materials at today's education session "Firefighter Health Hazards in the New Fire Environment."
Baxter's latest research analyzed remnants on firefighter gloves and hoods, particularly "plasticizers" from burned, synthetic material that can be absorbed by the body and are known carcinogens in other animals. The substance is also known as an "endocrine disruptor," which can cause testicular, prostate, and lung cancer.
While Baxter tries to narrow the link between synthetic materials and these diseases in on-duty and retired firefighters, he urges everyone to take precautions. Some simple steps include use of SCBA gear through the entire duration of fire suppression, bathing after fighting a fire, and washing all gear. For more information on code improvements benefiting firefighter health and safety, read the feature in the latest edition of NFPA Journal.
A large urban city is defined by a population of more than 250,000. While living in a city may not increase the risk of fire, demographic changes including the growing numbers of older adults, people with disabilities, immigrants and people living in poverty may impact fire safety in the city. Large urban city fire departments have particular challenges with limited resources, working in high-crime areas, leveraging relationships with city-wide institutions, reaching multicultural communities and getting residents to focus on fire safety.
NFPA's Urban Fire Safety Task Force, meeting today in Las Vegas, is composed of public fire safety educators and community risk reduction officers from 26 North American cities.
The purpose of the Task Force is to examine the unique challenges facing fire and life safety educators in large cities. The task force develops strategies to address those challenges and shares them with large city fire departments. Some of the topics discussed at today's meeting were experiences using the Public Education Planning for Urban Communities five-step planning process, successful smoke alarm installation programs, and the identification of public education and outreach issues.
Learn more about NFPA's Urban Fire Safety Task Force.
The following cities are represented on the Task Force: Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Washington, DC; Minneapolis, MN: Philadelphia, PA; Charlotte, NC; Raleigh, NC; Miami, FL; Austin TX; Dallas, TX; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Hamilton, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; St. Louis, MO; Kansas City; Memphis, TN; El Paso, TX; Louisville, KY; Detroit, MI; Milwaukee, WI; and Atlanta, GA.
Barbara Rice of the Cape Verde, Arizona, Fire Department recently won a contest we posted on our Conference blog. We asked readers to tell us, in 75 words or less, why they attend the NFPA Conference & Expo. The prize? Free registration to this year's event in Boston!
Here was Barbara's winning entry:
"I attend the NFPA Conference to network with peers who share ideas about how best to educate and protect our diverse communities. The education programs and life safety topics discussed are so varied and these programs provide the most current information on latest strategies, technology and publications relevant to every aspect of fire and life safety. Where else can you get all of that for the price? It is the most comprehensive conference I attend."
We ran into Barbara at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center - here's what she had to say: