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What to Know about Apartment and High-Rise Escape Planning

A major lesson of the 2022 Fire Prevention Week™ theme “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”™ is that today’s home fires burn hotter and faster than ever, leaving occupants with as little as two minutes or less to safely escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Planning and practicing Home Fire Escape with all members of the household and having working smoke alarms are two critical elements increasing residents’ chances of surviving a home fire.  For community members living in apartment and high-rise buildings, additional considerations may be needed for home fire safety planning. This can include communicating with the landlord/manager about the building’s safety features, practicing fire drills with neighbors, and knowing when to shelter in place rather than escape. The new Fire Safety in the City kit was developed to provide a simple, picture-filled way to teach about the unique considerations for home fire escape planning in multifamily housing. This kit includes information on escape, smoke alarms, and keeping children away from items that can burn or start fires, such as lighters and matches.  Help your community members navigate their apartment/high-rise living spaces by educating them on the importance of escape planning using these resources along with our High-Rise Apartment & Condominium Safety Tip Sheet and our new Older Adult Home Fire Escape video.  Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook, and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in fire and life safety education.

Does CRR Planning Give You Analysis Paralysis? Let NFPA 1300 Help!

If you’re new to community risk reduction (CRR), putting together a plan can feel a bit overwhelming, and may even inhibit your efforts to move forward. But don’t let that happen!  NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, can help. It’s the industry standard for conducting community risk assessments (CRAs) and CRR plans and a valuable tool for CRR professionals, providing a comprehensive framework for assessing and reducing risks related to fire and other community emergencies. NFPA 1300 features a structured approach for identifying, assessing risks within a community—such as fire, natural disasters, and transportation—as well as identifying vulnerable populations and assessing their needs. By using this standard, CRR professionals can ensure that they are thoroughly and systematically evaluating these risks, rather than relying on intuition or incomplete information. Another important aspect of NFPA 1300 is that it promotes a community-centered approach to risk reduction. This means that it emphasizes the need to involve community members, stakeholders, and other partners in the risk assessment and planning process. By engaging members of the community in this way, CRR professionals can build buy-in for their plans and ensure that they are addressing the needs and concerns of the people who will be most affected by the risks. The standard also encourages all the key departments within a given community, including the fire department, emergency management department, law enforcement, and other agencies, to work together to collaboratively reduce the overall risk to the community. This also helps build resilience and prepare the community for any emergency. In addition, NFPA 1300 provides guidance on developing a community risk reduction plan. This includes setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies and actions, and assessing the effectiveness of the plan. By following these steps, CRR professionals can create plans that are both comprehensive and actionable, and that can be adapted over time, as needed. Print copies of NFPA 1300 are available for free, so order yours today! Also, remember that CRAIG 1300™ is an NFPA® digital dashboard that can help streamline and maximize your CRA and CRR efforts. Aligned to the industry standard on CRR, CRAIG 1300 aggregates important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the CRA process. Learn more about CRAIG 1300 by taking a demo of this dynamic, easy-to-use tool today!
People putting their hands together

CRR Week: An Opportunity to Set Your Strategy

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week is a grassroots effort that works to increase awareness of CRR. CRR is a data-driven process for identifying and prioritizing local risks and using that information to develop strategic plans that increase community safety. CRR Week takes place each January starting on Martin Luther King Day, a national day of service. During this annual campaign, many local fire departments, community agencies, and national organizations highlight their CRR efforts and help others learn about it. NFPA® contributes to the work done by CRR specialists by offering NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. This standard outlines the critical steps of the CRR process and provides guidance about important stakeholders and partners engaged in the process. NFPA also provides tools to support the CRR process, such as CRAIG 1300™, the Community Risk Assessment Insight Generator. CRAIG 1300 is a digital dashboard aligned to the industry standard on CRR that wrangles important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the community risk assessment (CRA) process. For CRR professionals looking to build their collegial networks, NFPA offers the CRR Kitchen Table, a monthly virtual gathering where CRR peers discuss hot topics in the CRR space, share tools and resources, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference in their communities. The first CRR Kitchen Table of 2023 will take place on Wednesday, January 18, at 2 p.m. ET. The focus of this Kitchen Table session will be on goal setting for CRR initiatives; representatives from a variety of CRR-focused organizations will be joining the discussion. If you’d like to participate in CRR Kitchen Table sessions, please email the NFPA CRR team at  to be added to the invitation list. Additional Kitchen Table events are set for March 1 and March 29, also at 2 p.m. ET. Reach out to the team with questions about the CRR process or the NFPA tools and resources to support CRR efforts.  

New year brings renewed energy to help educate communities about the benefits of home fire sprinklers

We count on the ball dropping in Times Square to usher in each New Year. That’s tradition. But we fire and life safety advocates must not drop the ball when it comes to who we need to reach to increase awareness about the benefits of installed home fire sprinklers. I hope you’ll join me in resolving to focus on outcome-driven outreach in 2023. Residents of virtually any community need to be reminded that every home is improved by a complete system of home fire safety. That includes prevention, early warning with working smoke alarms, having an escape plan and practicing it, and installed home fire sprinklers. We often talk about the first three things. But encouraging home fire sprinkler installation in new homes needs more attention. With sprinklers only required statewide in California, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., we can’t rely on widespread new-home sprinkler requirements to achieve this goal but there is more that can be done. In many markets, new single-family home construction is still strong, so reaching individuals who plan to build a new home before they lock in is important. Consumers need to understand the facts about home fires as well as the unrivaled benefits of installed home fire sprinklers. I talk to folks all the time who say their public outreach directly led to consumers deciding either to build a home with fire sprinklers or buy one that had sprinklers installed. That’s a classic example of an outcome-driven educational program and a good model for all of us. You know that today’s home fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes and that homes are where most fire fatalities occur. But don’t count on your local officials knowing that. Educating local decision-makers and others involved in new home construction can – and does –result in sprinklered homes, impacting a large number of people. So, make sure you’re reaching planners, building officials, builders, developers and water purveyors, too. They need your help to understand the impact of structure fires not just on residents, but on firefighter health and safety and the well-being of your entire community. Another strategy that pays dividends is local code advocacy. When jurisdictions are reviewing its residential code, lend your voice and expertise to the arguments in favor of not reducing safety by not taking out the home fire sprinkler requirement. Your role is valuable and unique, because many of those in positions of power may not understand why the code as developed includes home fire sprinklers. You can speak sincerely and with experience to the very real dangers of omitting sprinklers from local codes. What they don't know can hurt them. A code updated without fire sprinklers results in substandard housing, something your community’s decision makers don’t want on their shoulders. If fire sprinklers are not in the current code and no update is on the horizon, the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and fire marshal should make themselves a regular and vocal presence in the new development pre-planning process. This is an excellent opportunity to share data and educational content. Ahead of approvals, make a presentation about how home fire sprinklers can be used to offer local home developer incentives if the entire development is protected with installed fire sprinklers. I guarantee many sitting around that table with you simply don’t realize that these incentives lower developer costs and can actually increase their revenue. What developer is going to argue with that? Clearly, safer homes are a win-win for your community. But only when people understand the dangers and recognize the benefits. So, let’s not drop the ball on our local outreach. As always, NFPA is here to help. Tap into our free educational resources and get helpful safety tip sheets to share. And for home fire sprinkler content, use HFSC’s free turnkey tools that make it easy for you to educate your target audiences. You can also create a space on your website about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers. Upload videos and other content. Post cards to your social media accounts. Or simply link to HomeFireSprinkler.org – HFSC’s website is free of advertising and all content is free to you.  Whatever action you decide to take in the new year to increase awareness about the importance of home fire safety and the benefits of installed home fire sprinklers, let NFPA and HFSC help guide your way. Keep us updated throughout the year on your progress; don’t forget to share your thoughts, lessons learned, and your successes with us! By working together, we can help ensure safer communities in 2023 and for many years to come.
Christmas tree removal

One-third (33 percent) of Christmas Tree Fires Occur in January, Making Prompt Removal from Homes Critical to Safety

Saying goodbye to your Christmas tree may not be easy, but here’s a compelling reason to remove it as soon as possible: One-third (33 percent) of US home fires involving Christmas trees occur in January, on annual average. The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out; a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. That’s why NFPA® strongly encourages everyone to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season. The latest Christmas tree fires report from NFPA, which reflects annual averages between 2016 and 2020, shows that 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage. According to the report, fires that begin with Christmas trees are a very small but notable part of the US fire problem, considering that they are generally in use for a short time each year. Some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues, suggesting that people may burn the tree to dispose of it. With these concerns in mind, the US Forest Service offers this caution: “Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove! Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.” To safely dispose of a Christmas tree, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. Also, following are tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re still in good condition next season: Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk of shock or electrical fire. As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets, or cracked or bare wires. Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap them around a piece of cardboard. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the US Fire Administration.

Putting a Freeze on Winter Fires

The new year brings hopes of fresh starts and new habits.  Fire and life safety (FLS) educators can support their communities in making fire safety a habit by highlighting the unique fire risks and prevention tips during the winter months. The annual Put a Freeze on Winter Fires campaign, with assets co-developed by NFPA® and the US Fire Administration (USFA), offers FLS educators dedicated infographics, downloadable social media assets, and data to share with the community. Heating, winter storms, and the increased use of space heaters, candles, and portable generators all contribute to the fire and carbon monoxide risks in the winter months.  Half of all home heating fires occur December through February. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, accounting for one-third of the fires, as well as the majority of deaths and injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment.  And home fires caused by candles is highest in December and January.* Kick off the new year helping you community build fire safety habits with these assets along with the Dan Doofus Heating Safety video from NFPA and our 10 Tips to Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze with space to add your department/organization logo for co-branding. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook, and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in fire and life safety education. *Statistics provided by NFPA Applied Research Division.

Keep Fire Safety In Mind When Celebrating Hanukkah This December

Flickering candles on the menorah and crispy latkes are classic elements of Hanukkah celebrations. However, candles and cooking (particularly cooking that includes frying) present potential fire hazards that can quickly turn a fun-filled holiday into a tragic one. The good news is that the likelihood of cooking and candle fires can be minimized by following simple safety precautions and guidelines. When using a menorah that requires traditional candles, make sure it’s placed on a sturdy surface and in a location that it can’t be easily bumped into or knocked over. Also, keep the menorah at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn and monitor it carefully - all candles must be blown out when leaving the room or going to sleep. Our candle safety tip sheet offers these and other recommendations to help reduce the risk of home candle fires; our religious candle safety tip sheet addresses fire safety tips specifically related to religious holiday activities. If you use an electrically powered menorah, inspect the wiring carefully to ensure that it’s in good condition and remember to unplug it when leaving the home or going to sleep. When it comes to cooking during Hanukkah, keep in mind that grease pan frying dominates the home cooking fire problem. According to our latest US home cooking fires report, which reflects annual averages between 2014 and 2018, cooking oil, fat, grease, and related substances were first ignited in half (52 percent) of the home cooking fires that began with cooking materials. Almost three-fifths (58 percent) of the civilian deaths and three-quarters of the civilian injuries (76 percent) and direct property damage (77 percent) associated with cooking material or food ignition resulted from these cooking oil or grease fires. Follow these safety considerations when cooking with oil: Monitor what’s frying on the stovetop carefully – never leave frying food unattended. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot. Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying. Add food gently to the pan so the oil does not splatter. Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire. If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside. Visit our cooking safety page for more cooking safety tips and information. Check out our winter holiday safety page for additional statistics, resources, and recommendations on safely celebrating all season long.
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