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Community Fire Prevention; Take Care of the Little Things

If you have read my fire prevention missives in the past, you have learned that, in my opinion, preaching the good word supporting public fire and life safety education is part of our mission of saving lives and protecting property. Consider how much property can be saved with the effective use of a sprinkler system, or a fire extinguisher. In the restaurant and commercial occupancy world, an Ansul system, or a FM 200 system and the like, can also prevent some damage loss and protect property. Think about how many lives can be saved with simple installations of smoke alarms, by closing doors, or by changing and not removing batteries from a smoke alarm, and by installing working carbon monoxide alarms. Fire prevention and public education cover many little subject areas, but in the grand scheme of things, they mean so much in community risk reduction efforts. Don’t let this get out too much but, we can do more with less, just by getting lessons out to the community. But, at the same time, we can increase our value. Going live on social media is a great tool to utilize and as we witnessed through the pandemic, we can “Team” up or “Zoom” in for a virtual educational session. For my own department, I have created two-minute videos, thanks to the social media materials provided by the United States Fire Administration. The USFA covers all four seasons as it relates to fire prevention and fire safety. They also get specific with information about grilling, cooking, and electrical fire safety, and escape planning. The best part of this information is that it is free, printable, shareable, and you can add your department’s name to it. The National Fire Protection Association also has resources you can take advantage of. Some are free and some have an associated cost to them. One of the programs that NFPA has is the “Remembering When” program. It’s a program designed for senior citizens, that can be delivered in a variety of ways. It is important to educate and re-educate this population, because many do not realize that they are not as strong, quick, and agile as they once were. But as much as that population section is important to our world, other age groups are equally important, and we should do what we can with these resources at hand. Look, I get it. Budgets are tight and our time is precious. The bottom line is we are still losing firefighters, moms, dads, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and the list goes on and on to line of duty deaths due to fires or accidents that could have prevented. According to the USFA, from 2010 until 2019, there have been over 3,000 civilian fire deaths each year. We have seen advances in commerce, in industry, and with technology. The question we should ask ourselves as a collective fire service is, “Why hasn’t there been advancement in a reduction of these deaths?” What I think most of us know already is the answer, it is in education and outreach. There is a saying out there that goes, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” In your down time, take a little time to increase fire prevention outreach. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. When you have the bay doors open, checking rigs and equipment, take the little bit of time to chat with the families with children that look upon the fire trucks and you in awe and amazement. Capture that teaching moment with both the children and adults. Ask them about their smoke alarms and escape planning. And when you’re on social media, simply share what’s already out there and give credit when credit is due. If you have the time, you can get creative with your messaging and posts, and use social media in a very positive, lifesaving way. It doesn’t take much. That said, if every one of us took the time to do the little things mentioned here, the potential to have our mission statement be more impactful will be realized. Stay safe!

 

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