Topic: Public Education

Taking Steps to Reduce Fire Risk in On- and Off-Campus Housing During Campus Fire Safety Month in September

With the fall semester soon upon us, students are making their way to college campuses across the country, unpacking and settling in for the school year. For some students this may be the first time living on their own in a dormitory, or as an older student they may be living with friends in an off-campus apartment or house. Through our “Campus Fire Safety for Students” campaign held each September, NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) are working together to help ensure these residences are as safe as possible for students. If you’re not familiar with Campus Fire Safety Month, it’s an annual campaign that raises awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing. Each year NFPA collaborates with other safety organizations to share relevant information with students, their parents, and campus housing staff and administrators, helping students make living spaces as safe as possible from fires and associated hazards. This September, NFPA and CCFS are reinforcing the critical importance of cooking safety, the focus of this year’s Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW) campaign, which works to educate people about the leading risks to home fires and ways they can better protect themselves and their loved ones. When it comes to cooking, NFPA research shows that cooking fires are the most frequent cause of home fires and home fire injuries; unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and related deaths. With so many students having access to cooking appliances and common kitchen areas in student and off-campus housing, it’s vital that they know when and where cooking hazards exist, along with simple but critical ways to prevent them. Did you know …. according to the latest statistics from NFPA’s “Fires in Dormitory-Type Properties,” report, from 2017 to 2021, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,379 structure fires each year in dormitories, fraternity houses, sorority houses, and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 23 civilian injuries and $12 million in direct property damage during this same period. In addition, three out of four fires in these properties began in the kitchen or cooking area, accounting for 60 percent of the civilian injuries and 17 percent of the direct property damage. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly 9 out of 10 fires. More statistics of note include: The months of February, September, and October were peak times for fires in dormitory properties. Fires were more common during the evening hours between 4 p.m. and midnight when over half of the fires (54 percent) occurred. Kitchen and cooking equipment were involved in 86 percent of the fires. Fires were also more common on weekends with Saturday and Sunday being the leading days for fire events. Campus Fire Safety Month provides a great opportunity to better educate students about where fire hazards exist, and simple but critical ways to prevent them. NFPA and CCFS offer these tips and recommendations for cooking safely in dorms and in off-campus housing: Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove or oven. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Set a timer for a reminder that you are cooking. Cook only when alert. Don’t cook if you are sleepy or have taken medicines or alcohol that make you drowsy. Keep anything that can catch fire (towels, potholders, etc.) away from the stovetop. Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea. If a fire starts in the oven, turn it off and leave the door closed. Have the oven checked and/or serviced before using it again. If you have a cooking fire, when in doubt, get out and call the fire department. These additional tips from NFPA and CCFS can help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives: Know and practice the building’s evacuation plan, as well as alternate routes out of the building. Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas, and on every level of the apartment or house. Never remove or disable smoke alarms. Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords, or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, like space heaters and halogen lamps. Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes. If you’re a public educator or safety professional working in a community with a college or university campus, NFPA and CCFS have resources and materials you can use to help raise awareness about student safety. From new students to seniors, resident assistants to campus safety professionals, everyone has a role to play when it comes to fire safety on college and university campuses. Many of our resources, including videos, checklists, infographics, and tips sheets, are designed to be distributed through social media, school newspapers, college websites, and posted in dormitory common areas. Make sure you check them out and share them with others! For more information about the Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign and to find these free resources, visit and the CCFS website and its Share! For Students webpage.
Partial list of Wildland Fires in U.S. History with Ten or More Fatalities

Maui wildfire one of deadliest in U.S. history

*Since this blog was first published, the death toll has continued to climb. As of August 25, the reported number of deaths is 115.   According to NFPA research, this week’s Lahaina Fire death toll, now at 80 people, is among the top ten deadliest wildfires on record since 1871.   “Through a deadly combination of human and natural causes, we now see unprecedented wildfires in every corner of the globe and in communities that were previously not viewed as high risk,” said NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley. “This painful and tragic reality was on full display in Maui as wind driven fires overwhelmed the small island.”   Pauley’s statements are reinforced in additional facts from NFPA research including that four of the deadliest wildfires in the U.S., including this one, have occurred since 2017.   He continued, “While voluntary actions to mitigate property have proved successful to an extent, the sheer volume of communities at risk requires changes to where we build, how we build, and what we do to existing properties through stronger policies to create a built environment better able to withstand such massive devastation.”   Today there are nearly 45 million homes in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). According to the National Interagency Fire Center, some 71.8 million properties in the U.S. are at some level of risk from wildfire. Each year some of the largest-loss fires occur in the WUI.   In the past five years, wildfires have destroyed nearly 63,000 structures in the U.S., the majority of which were homes. Record high temperatures, serious drought conditions, and high winds from severe weather events such as thunder and lightning storms have been blamed for the recent increase in wildfire activity in Canada, Europe, and in high-risk areas across the U.S. Officials predict more wildfires will erupt in the coming months due to continued dry heat and increased storm activity, prompting residents to look for information on what they can do to reduce their risk before a wildfire.   In a media advisory this week, NFPA provided resources for media and the public on various aspects for the wildfire problem.   Additional information, resources, and articles: Outthink Wildfire™, a comprehensive strategy that lays out five key policy changes that need to be made at the federal, state, and local levels and if followed, will end the destruction of communities by wildfire over the next 30 years. Firewise USA® recognition program that empowers residents to work collaboratively in reducing wildfire risks. Prepare Your Home for Wildfire Fact Sheet Home Ignition Zone Checklist Wildfire Preparedness Tips NFPA/IBHS Wildfire Research Fact Sheet Series Blog: Clearing the Five-Foot Zone Around Your Home is Critical to Safety from Wildfires NFPA Journal, May 2023 Wildfire Column: Inflection Point   For additional resources and information, and to learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage, please visit NFPA’s wildfire  webpage.   For those seeking information on federal disaster assistance, please visit FEMA.  
Firefighters high-fiving kids

Partner with the National Fire Protection Association and Domino’s for Fire Prevention Week

NFPA and Domino’s are teaming up for the 16th year to deliver fire safety messages and pizza during Fire Prevention Week (FPW), Oct. 8-14, 2023. To make this year’s campaign a success, we’re encouraging fire departments to join forces with their local Domino’s store to implement the campaign in their communities. Here’s how the program works: Partner with your local Domino’s store to participate in an easy-to-execute program that will promote fire safety during FPW. Select a day and time period (usually 2-3 hours) to randomly choose 3-4 pizza orders to deliver, accompanied by a fire engine. When the pizza delivery arrives, the firefighters will check the home for working smoke alarms. If the smoke alarms work, the customer’s order is free (cost absorbed by the Domino’s store). If the smoke alarms aren’t working, the fire department will replace the batteries or install fully functioning smoke alarms (cost absorbed by the fire department). As you’ve likely heard by now, this year’s FPW campaign theme is “Cooking safety starts with YOU. Pay attention to fire prevention™.” It highlights some of the simple but important actions adults can take to keep themselves and those around them safe when cooking. Partnering with Domino’s presents a fun and powerful way to reinforce this messaging. Domino’s Fire Prevention Week Sweepstakes Fire departments that sign up (from Aug. 14-31) to participate in this program will automatically be entered into Domino’s FPW Sweepstakes. Domino’s will randomly select three winners who will receive the NFPA’s “Fire Prevention Week in a Box 300” which includes an FPW banner, posters, adult brochures, activity booklets for kids, magnets, stickers, and more! Sign up to participate If your fire department would like to participate in the NFPA and Domino’s FPW program, please email Honoré Washington. Signup emails that are sent Aug. 14-31 will be entered into the Sweepstakes. The FPW Sweepstakes winners will be drawn on or around Wednesday, Sept. 6.
CPSC Commissioners at public forum on lithium-ion battery safety

CPSC Forum Focuses on Lithium-Ion Battery, E-Mobility Safety

Addressing the stark reality of hazards related to a rapidly growing e-mobility industry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hosted a forum yesterday to spotlight growing concerns surrounding lithium-ion battery safety, especially fires occurring in e-bikes and other micro-mobility devices. In 2019, 13 injuries in New York City were caused by fires linked to e-mobility devices powered by lithium-ion batteries. By 2022, that number had risen to 147, a tally expected to be eclipsed this year with 87 injuries already logged in 2023. Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, whose testimony kicked off the forum, said that “lithium-ion batteries are now a top cause of fatal fires in New York,” killing 13 residents this year so far. Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, was a key voice at CPSC forum, along with elected leaders and representatives from manufacturer associations, voluntary standards organizations, and consumer groups. In her comments to the Commission, Carli acknowledged the increasing challenges of fire and electrical hazards in our rapidly evolving, technology-reliant communities and urged a comprehensive approach to deal with this emerging fire threat. She said the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem offers a framework to address this multi-dimensional challenge, specifically focusing on four crucial areas: The regulatory environment The use and enforcement of current codes and standards Trained and equipped first responders, and A well-informed public There was broad agreement among panelists for more robust regulations to address the safety of e-mobility devices, including mandatory safety standards, enforcement of existing rules, and closing loopholes that allow dangerous, untested batteries and devices to be imported into the U.S. Carli stressed that storage guidelines, requiring tested batteries and components, and restrictions on device quantities in buildings can all improve safety She noted that NFPA 1®, Fire Code, has been updated with criteria for protecting areas where such devices are stored, charged, or used. Several panelists spoke strikingly about the explosive characteristics of lithium-ion battery fires, which one industry panelist said was analogous to a gasoline fire. FDNY Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn compared the fires to those started by incendiary devices. “These fires are large from the start,” he said. Carli emphasized that first responder preparedness for lithium-ion battery fires is crucial for their safety and must be prioritized. She cited last fall's symposium titled "Lithium-Ion Batteries: Challenges for the Fire Service," co-sponsored by NFPA, FDNY Foundation, and U.L., as a significant resource to provide guidance for the fire service. Several panelists promoted the role of the public in improving safety. While easily determining the safety of lithium-ion batteries can be difficult in e-mobility devices, individuals can prevent potentially catastrophic fires by educating themselves about the potential hazards of lithium-ion batteries and the correct usage and maintenance of related devices. Carli commended the efforts of Commissioner Kavanaugh and FDNY for their proactive and aggressive approach to public safety education. She also highlighted NFPA's efforts and those of other safety organizations that have created resources providing essential safety information for consumers and emergency responders. The CPSC forum provided a window on the complexity of this issue but also highlighted the sense of urgency to take action, which was best summed up by CPSC Commissioner Mary Boyle, who said in her closing statement: “Hearing from the stakeholders is an incredibly important part of the regulatory process and I think today’s hearing provided really useful and helpful information. I feel encouraged, like my colleagues, that there is broad consensus that we need to act and act quickly." For more safety information and resources, visit our lithium-ion battery safety page.

Women in STEM session covers broad range of issues, from the impact of climate change and SMART buildings to today’s workplace challenges

For the past several years, NFPA has hosted a Women in STEM session at the NFPA Conference & Expo, highlighting the professional accomplishments, learnings, and successes of women in the world of fire and life safety. With a focus on diversity in the fire protection industry, this year’s Women in STEM event, A Glimpse into the Impact of Climate Change, SMART Buildings, and Modern Workplace Challenges, was held on Wednesday, June 20, addressing the impact of climate change on fire protection projects and emerging technologies in fire protection and life safety for SMART buildings, along with changes in workplace culture in a post-pandemic world. TED-style talks were presented by three featured speakers, followed by an open, engaging panel discussion moderated by Shelby Hall, fire analysis research manager at NFPA. The event kicked off with Dr. Virginia Charter from Oklahoma State University, who spoke to changes in global climate change patterns over the long term and their impact on fire protection, highlighting that available water supply clearly present serious implications for effectively fighting fires in the future. According to Dr. Charter, the water stress projection for the U.S. in 2040 is “medium to high,” representing the midpoint of the range, while there’s potential for significant concern in Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and countries in the middle east. To reinforce this point, she showed two images of the Hoover Damn side by side, one in 2001 and another in 2018; the draught’s impact on available water is sizeable. Dr. Charter was clear to point out that it’s not that there won’t be any water in years to come, but if there is no available water to draw upon, what happens when fire breaks out? This issue prompts questions around codes and standards as well. For example, the first question in designing a fire sprinkler system is, “What is the water supply?” If the answer is that it’s insufficient, how can sprinkler systems be designed to adequately protect people and property? With these concerns in mind, Dr. Charter says we need to find ways to mitigate water security issues. As of now, there appears to be more questions than answers. Next, Dr. Nalini Venkatasubramanian with University of California Irvine covered the evolution of technology in fire protection and life safety systems installed in SMART buildings, and the tremendous improvements that technology has made on all our systems, including their interoperability and ability to generate more current information. In particular, she discussed her work on the E-knox Space Box study, which involved the development of open platforms for fire situational awareness (SA), featuring a range of new technologies and tools (i.e., semantic web, IoT) that provide dynamic SA at the fire site. She explained that a traditional “knox box” remove barriers to entry, so that information is available and accessible as a fire engine approaches the scene. As an integration platform, the knox box combines existing and live information to create and maintain a common operating picture for fire personnel, with whom they maintain a close collaboration. Dr. Venkatasubramanian noted, however, that while capturing critical data strengthens the ability to mitigate crises, it does come with resource challenges, such as limited bandwidth and high deployment costs. She also pointed out that there are new opportunities and trends for mixing building data with individual centric data, with examples of this already in play, such as drone-assisted monitoring for high-rise fires and WUI communities that conduct wildfire monitoring and fire-tracking. Last but certainly not least, Chris Dubay, chief engineer and VP of engineering at NFPA, discussed changes in workplace culture in our post-pandemic world, focusing on what’s happened since the pandemic struck, why diversity matters, and how to lead in today’s working environment. Dubay said that the way we work has shifted and accelerated since the pandemic hit – when it did, we all reconfigured how we work. Employees supported organizations and organizations supported their employees and it worked. Now we’ve seen that many employees prefer working from home and some organizations are pushing back. Dubay believes that leaders should help find a balance between implementing in-office connections while supporting the flexibility that working remotely offers. But Dubay said he believes something bigger happened that fundamentally changed how we operate as a society and COVID accelerated that change. Every minute of every day is booked, often down to the minute. We’ve trained ourselves to be consumed at all times, and we have accepted and even set for ourselves an expectation that we are and will always be available.        At the core, Dubay said, if we as leaders are not willing to understand the new landscape and personally adjust – and adjust how we lead and support our teams - we won’t need to worry about diversity or leadership because quite simply we won’t be leading. On that note, when it comes to diversity, if we only focus on numbers, maybe we can be diverse on paper, but it doesn’t ensure that we have a truly inclusive environment. Dubay said he believes that diversity starts and is driven by recruiting and promoting with inclusivity of all ethnicities, cultures, and genders. “Recruit the best people you can and don’t settle, invest in the team professionally and emotionally. Set clear expectations of performance, hold people accountable, retain exceptional people, and let them be amazing,” said Dubay. Dubay added that if people on our teams are different from us, they will work differently, they will be motivated differently – by focusing on the outcomes versus the rules we can use that energy to focus on knowing the person and who they are and what they are facing. When people are known by us, the outcomes will be better, the team will be stronger and more impactful. Agreement will not always come as easy, but we need to embrace and encourage that tension and process. Dubay also spoke to knowing your team to better understand what is important to each of them as a person and as a team member.  Our true self’s fundamentally shape what we value and how we see the world around us. It shapes how we operate, interact, and respond to each other.  Do we assume positive intentions, or do we assume malice?  Dubay said that leaders need to be the first to share as much as we can of ourselves and jump off the edge a bit – this builds trust and openness – then ask and provide opportunities for team members to bring their full self to the team. “When we know our team members and they feel known, we can better adjust to meet their needs and expectations – which will allow them to perform at their best,” said Dubay.

CRR Workshop Provides Strategies for Identifying and Mitigating Community Risks

On Wednesday, Karen Berard-Reed, CRR lead at NFPA®, led a community risk reduction (CRR) workshop with Lauri Volkert, fire marshal of the Town of Windsor (Connecticut), as part of the 2023 Conference & Expo®. The half-day workshop provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of CRR and its impact on effectively identifying and mitigating community risks. The workshop was designed for those entering the CRR space, specialists seeking to expand their knowledge base, and CRR champions eager to capture additional content that will help grow their local teams. Each of the sessions fostered rich discussions and skill-building activities to help CRR specialists boost local capacity for CRR implementation with the goal of giving them concrete actions to bring back to their communities. Overall, the workshop proved to be highly interactive with lots of engagement from folks at both local and state level agencies across North America. It also served as an excellent networking opportunity to drive continued conversations after the event.      For anyone working to kick-start a CRR program in their community, check out NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, which provides a roadmap for identifying the leading risks in a given community and effectively mitigating them. Also, CRAIG 1300® is the 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.
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