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Friday, October 29, 2010

Fire Safety for Halloween

It’s Halloween now at the end of October will soon be here. It’s the time of year when ghosts, goblins, and witches will once again be in search of candy and other goodies. The phrase for this ghoulish holiday is “Trick or Treat” but the famous phrase could easily turn into “Tragedy.” Here are some tips to help make this a fire safe time for everyone.

Fire wise homeowners know it’s never wise to use candles in a jack-o-lantern. Whether carried by a trick-or-treater or just set on a window ledge, the candlelit pumpkin is a fire waiting for a chance to spread.

Candle fires represent a leading cause of U.S. home fires. From 2003-2007, an annual average of 15,260 home structure fires were started by candles, causing 166 fire deaths, 1,289 injures and $450 million in direct property damage. Overall, candles caused 4% of reported home fires, 6% of home fire deaths, 10% of the home fires, and 7% of the direct property damage in reported home fires. Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires.

If you prefer the flickering, eerie light of a candle to the dull constancy of a plain light bulb here’s a simple suggestion to make candlelight in a jack-o-lantern very safe. Use a string of color Christmas lights. Fill the string with red & yellow lights that flash by themselves. Cut a small hole in the back of the pumpkin to accommodate the electric plug and drop in the lights. You’ve created a fire-safe pumpkin that’s a Halloween chill down the stoutest ghoul’s spine.

Now there is sure to be Halloween parties as well with the decorations to put all in the fun spirit. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these decorations well away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.

National Fire Protection Association statistics show us also that, from 2003-2007, decorations were the item first ignited in a estimated annual average of 1,240 reported structure fires, resulting in 7 civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and$20 million in direct property damage each year.

Everyone is urged to take some simple precautions and practices to keep this year’s Halloween celebrations festive and safe. Here are a few more fire safety & safety tips:

· When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.

· Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.

· It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of way trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.

· If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.

· Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.

· Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)

· Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.

· If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

· Children should always go trick-or-treating with a responsible adult.

· Remind children to stay together as a group and walk from house to house.

· Review how to cross a street with your child. Look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are approaching before crossing the street.

· Make a rule that children will not eat any treat until it has been brought home and examined by a grown-up.

Halloween is meant to be fun. Don’t let tragedy spoil it. Be Fire Safe! Be Fire Wise! Learn Not To Burn!

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NFPA: Second Lowest Level of U.S. Smoking-Material Fire Deaths in Nearly 30 Years


Lower fire death rates signal positive impact of national fire-safe cigarette initiative

A new report released, October 21,2010, by the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that the number of smoking-material related fire deaths in the U.S. dropped below 700 in 2008, representing the second lowest level since 1980. While several factors can be credited for the latest decline, NFPA points to new fire-safe cigarette legislation as an important component of the decrease.

A total of 114,800 smoking-material fires resulted in an estimated 680 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $737 billion in direct property damage in 2008. (Smoking materials are defined as lighted tobacco products, but do not include matches or lighters.)

Smoking-material fires have been down by 66% from 1980 to 2008. NFPA’s report says this long-term trend is due to fewer people smoking, and to standers and regulations that now require mattresses and upholstered furniture be made with materials more resistant to cigarette ignition, among other factors. However, the most recent drop in smoking-material fire fatalities can also be attributed to “fire-safe” cigarette legislation, which mandates that cigarettes be produced with reduced ignition strength, and carry a lower propensity for burning when left unattended. NFPA launched the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes in 2006 with the goal of getting fire-safe cigarettes in every state across the country. Prior to the formation of the Coalition, two states had passed legislation. As of February, all 50 states had passed similar bills. The laws are now in effect in 47 states.

According to Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications, nearly all home smoking-material fires are unintentional, and are most often caused by some human error in control or disposal.

“Widespread use of safeguards like fire-safe cigarettes, which can minimize or altogether prevent the damage incurred by smoking-material related mishaps, serves as a critical step for further reducing the nation’s fire problem,” said Carli.

In 2003, New York was the first state to adopt a fire-safe cigarette requirement. By the end of 2008, a total of 18 states across the country implemented the law. From 2003 to 2008, when the percentage of smokers covered by the law rose from 0% to 21-29%, the number of smoking-material structure fires fell 14%, and the number of civilian deaths dropped 16%. When the law is fully effective (in late 2012), simple projections show that the fire reduction rate should reach 50-70%, and the civilian fire death rate should drop by 56-77% (both relative to levels in 2003, the last year before the fire-safe cigarette law was effective in any state.)

“We are thrilled to see the intended consequences of fire-safe cigarette legislation,” said Carli. “It is clear that the initiative has already made an impact on public safety and that further progress will be achieved over the next few years. “

Other notable findings from NFPA’s report show:

  • Most of the fires caused by smoking materials and related losses occur in homes, including apartments.
  • Roughly equal shares of deaths resulting from smoking-material fires were in bedrooms (36%) as in living rooms, family rooms and dens (33%).
  • One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire. The risk of dying in a home fire caused by smoking materials rises with age.

As with virtually all types of fires, there are many steps people can take to prevent smoking-material fires. NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) worked collaboratively to develop the following safety tips, which primarily focus on safe storage and disposal of cigarettes:

  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Whenever you smoke, use deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays, which should be set on something solid and hard to ignite, like an end-table.
  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out. Dowsing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
  • Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
  • To prevent a cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you’re sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
  • Smoking should not be allowed in a home where medical oxygen is used.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA is a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site at

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fire Protection Training: Donning Firefighter PPE

With the winter months closing in it'll be time to look at what a fire department can do on those drill nights to cold to do any type of productive training. What more basic and simple then doing a "Bunker Drill." Always good fun drill to do for fire department bragging rights

Now it wasn't at the local volunteer fire department but I did have a training class where we did the "Bunker Drill, Bunker Drill" where I work at to see how quickly you could get into your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In this case instead of the typical stander structural firefighter turnout gear I was using my ARFF firefighting/rescue protective clothing (also known as the proximity suit), better known as "silvers/silver bunker suit."

The ARFF proximity suit is a fire suit designed to protect a firefighter from high radiant fire loads, such as those produced by JP fuels or other bulk flammable fuels. They are worn for aircraft firefighting. They are currently manufactured from vacuum deposited aluminized materials that reflect the high radiant loads produced by the fire. The suits are certified to meet the National Fire Protection Association Standard NFPA 1976-2000, Standard on Protective Ensemble for Proximity Fire Fighting.

For the "Bunker Drill" training class I was doing the gear though it was a ARFF proximity suit it is the same in design as far as a coat and pants goes, being similar as the structural turnout gear but the uses are different in their functions. That being one is for structural fire fighting and the other for aircraft rescue fire fighting.

The PPE “basics” are those steps that place the fire fighter into the PPE properly, quickly, as well as correctly. Donning the PPE should and needs to be practice periodically to be proficient where this basic of fire fighting equipment is on the fire fighter and protects because that its purpose. There are no short cuts, all parts of the turnout gear need to be worn. Having gloves in the bunker coat pocket while working on the fire ground doesn’t mean you are wearing them. Being a Safety Office or a Chief Office on the fire ground is not an excuse for not wearing the PPE. Believe me I’ve heard and seen these examples in my fire fighting career. They don’t wash. All PPE is to be worn by the fire fighter while on the fire ground and if not then that fire fighter should not be on the fire ground.

Here is a YouTube video that every firefighter rookie, as well as every season firefighter should view from time to time to give the basics of donning one's PPE. Captain Joe Bruni shows how to properly don structural personal protective clothing.…

Now once everyone has gone over the basics of how you pretty much get dress into the bunker gear, it's time to speed it up a bit and let the games and fun begin. Either do the dressing race individually or in groups of two, three or four depending how many fire fighters you have in the class.

When I did my "Bunker Gear" run of getting my PPE on as quickly as I could my best time was 1 minute 30 second. I felt pretty good about that time and it showed I still have it in getting the gear on. Always a good thing to be able to do as a fire fighter.

Here's another YouTube showing the basic speed of getting dressed out into the bunker gear...

The fire fighter in the video dressed out in 1 minute and 49 seconds flat. A good job also!

By doing this type of group training periodically, with th stressing that ALL PPE be worn correctly, the result is a more confident firefighter. Firefighters need to drill to learn to quickly don turnout gear and SCBA. How fast can you gear up?

Now here is a very confident firefighter, to say the least, in the following YouTube that gets it done in lest then a minute...

There you have it, you can’t get more “basic” then that. If you wear & use your PPE correctly, then it will provide protection. You have to practice, practice, and practice even more. It has to be that it becomes almost a second nature. If you can get dress in full PPE, in under 2 minutes, and all items are on correctly then your getting it done.

It’s a good idea to inspect all PPE after each use and wear of your PPE, to make sure it’s in good condition and is serviceabile. At the very least check and inspected monthly. By doing the occasional “Bunker Drill” in your department you keep up proficiency. Who’s the fastest in your fire department?

Don’t get burned by not wearing fire protective equipment hap-hazardously, wear it correctly, and Be Fire Safe.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Home Sprinkler System Can Make The Difference!

With FirePrevention Week 2010 well on it's way showing the importance of smoke detectors/alarms in the home there are also the fire safety lectures and fire demonstrations being conducted by many fire departments accross the country.

One of the mose interesting fire demonsrations that is being done is a real eye opener. The fire demonstration has two buildings with two similar rooms, complete with furniture, side by side setup for the fire demonstration. One building has installed sprinklers and the other building will have none.

After the firefighters light the two buildings on fire, spectators are able to compare the two, both in the amount of time it takes to put out the fire and the amount of damage produced by each.

The Spokane Fire Department was one of those fire departments that conducted and held a live fire demonstration as part of Fire Prevention week. The goal was to show the survival difference between a non sprinklered room and a room equipped with fire sprinklers. The demonstration illustrates the rapid spread of a typical home fire as well as the reduction in fire loss whenever sprinklers are part of the fire safety system. Over 80% of all fire deaths in the U.S. occur where we feel the safest, in our homes. Here's the Spokane Fire Department's YouTube fire demonstration:

This type of fire demonstration is being conducted by many fire departments accross the country. The demonstration shows how quickly and rapidly fire can develope in a room once started. All fire demonstrations show and have the same results.

What is being shown is what can happen when you have fire sprinklers and when you don't have them have them. The results of fire prevention demonstration shows that early detection and home fire sprinklers can reduce damage and can save lives in real time. The demonstration also shows firsthand experience how quickly a fire can become deadly as opposed to the effectiveness of a fire sprinkler system.

Smoke detectors/alarms, a fire extinguishers, a home escape plan (E.D.I.T.H) are most important in the home and all should have these basic of fire safety measures in place. All should know what to do in case of a fire at any given moment. By having a home sprinkler system the fire safety factor is greatly increased.

Of course we should all be practicing good daily fire prevention habits, both young & old, to keep a fire from starting in the first place.

Be Fire Safe, Be Fire Wise, ...

Learn Not Burn!

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

"This Week Is Fire Prevention Week!"

This week we encourage our families, neighbors, friends, and co-workers to take the steps to protect loved ones and property against fire during National Fire Prevention Week - October 3 through 9.

Each year, more than 3000 people die in their home, where they feel safest, and most of the death are a result of smoke inhalation. According to national data on house fires, there is about a 50 percent chance the smoke alarms did not function properly. That's why this year's National Fire Prevention Week slogan is "Smoke Alarms, A Sound You Can Live With."

Lets be more responsible when it comes to those smoke alarms and fire safety practices in the home! Check & test on a monthly bases smoke alarms in the home and hear that "BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!" Replace batteries in smoke alarms twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall each year to ensure that your smoke alarm has the power to go "BEEP, BEEP, BEEP" when there's a fire.

Have smoke alarms installed in every room people sleep. Have at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years with new ones. Clean and maintain smoke alarms regularly. When a smoke alarm chirps, replace the batteries with a new one immediately.

When a smoke alarm sounds, exit to safety immediately. Smoke alarms are part of every family's home escape plan. So, a smoke alarm will only protect and provide that early warning only if they are installed in the best locations and if they are in working order.

Now, someone I follow and subscribe to made a very good and very informative fire prevention YouTube video. Lamarr Wilson from YouTube Channel wilsontech1 hits all the important marks that are important to one's home fire prevention/safety plan. Here's Lamarr Wilson's "Fire Prevention Week 2010" video:

LOL! Oh, GREAT video Lamarr! If I was a kid again I would want you as my teacher. Thank you very much also Lamarr for a fantastic "Fire Prevention Week 2010" video because you show how easy & simple it is to do a very important life saving thing. You are a good teacher.

National Fire Prevention Week highlights those items & things we need to do dealing with fire safety throughout the year. Please, please take the few minutes to go over these fire prevention practices with love ones, friends, and co-workers. They could save a life if needed.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fire Prevention Week Starts With A "“Beep, Beep Beep”

Fire Prevention Week 2010 runs this week from October 3 to 9, 2010 and is a good time to update your fire safety practices. Fire safety in the home is something everyone should take very seriously and spreading the message of importance of being fully prepared in the event of a real fire emergency.

A working smoke alarm is a critical element of home fire safety but knowing exactly what to do in the event of a real fire emergency is also crucial. All smoke alarms in the home should have replace their batteries at least once a year and is strongly recommend.

“Install. Inspect. Protect. Smoke alarms save live.” Only if they are properly installed, inspected, and tested on an monthly bases will smoke alarms work properly and correctly. Test monthly for the “Beep, Beep Beep” sound when the test button is pressed. If you don’t hear a beeping sound check your battery and replace with a new one if needed. If you still don’t hear the beeping sound after pressing the test button you may need to replace the whole smoke alarm with a new smoke alarm.

It is a FACT: If your smoke alarm was installed before October 1, 2000, it needs to be replaced with a new one.

Focus on Fire Safety: Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are a Smoke avery important means of preventing home fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal so you and your family can escape. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 385,500 fires occur in residential buildings every year resulting in 2,770 civilian deaths and 13,250 injuries. When a smoke alarm sounds, it is time for you to spring into action.

You can prevent tragedy simply by testing and maintaining your smoke alarms and practicing a fire escape plan. Make sure your home fire escape plan is up to date and everyone in the home knows what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Practice your plan often.

Fire Prevention Week

The theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week, October 3 – 9, is Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With.

USFA encourages you to practice fire safety and to do your part to get out, before firefighters have to come in. For more information on smoke alarms, residential fire sprinklers, and escape planning, visit our Install. Inspect. Protect. fire safety campaign page.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

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