The latest NFPA statistics tell us that over the last 15 years the total number of structure fires has remained relatively constant. Yet fire is still killing more than 7 people per day across our country.
Consider these facts from the IAFC’s Smart Alarm Choices Program:
- 85% of all fatal fires occur in the home.
- Approximately 2,650 people die in the United States each year as the result of a fire in their homes.
- Fire fatalities occur in the 29% of homes without working smoke alarms, or no smoke alarms.
It remains extremely troubling that the number one cause of home fire deaths is the absence of working smoke alarms. These realities remind us as fire chiefs that we must keep current and lead our communities toward effective home fire safety strategies.
A new IAFC Position Statement on Home Smoke Alarms focuses on the importance of promoting working alarms in communities. It provides guidance to fire chiefs for making good choices about implementing risk reduction programs and calls for the replacement of any smoke alarm when it reaches 10 years of age. The statement encourages smoke alarms with long-life, nonreplaceable batteries to be used as an option where battery-powered units are allowed. As a result, the IAFC for the first time suggests that community risk reduction campaigns promote the use of smoke alarms powered by 10-year batteries as long as a replacement plan is considered.
As fire chiefs, we must work hard to help our communities respond to the message and have working smoke alarms in all homes. It’s our responsibility as community leaders to educate them that sleeping with their doors closed allows more time for escape and rescue as deadly smoke, carbon monoxide, and heat in home fires continues to increase.
Many resources are available. Please join us in educating our communities about the importance of having fire-safe homes.
Chief Thomas Jenkins is IAFC president and chairman of the board of directors. Chief Andy King is chairman of the IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section.
Fire Prevention Resources:
Home Smoke Alarms (IAFC Position Statement)
Smart Choices for Smoke Alarms (IAFC)
Fire Prevention Resources (IAFC)
Close Your Door Campaign (UL)
National Fire Protection Week (NFPA)