Without exception, every department’s recognition of and activities in fire prevention increase with each passing year. The recognition of the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire evolved into Fire Prevention Week; now we generally refer to Fire Prevention Month. This is when most of us focus most of our efforts on fire prevention.
We’re doing it, but prevention activities are truly a year-round effort, so the definition of “it” can be very long. The first job of prevention officials (fire chiefs/fire marshals) is to evaluate what prevention topics will most impact their communities.
The challenge is to create the recipe for your community that will most effectively meet those needs with the resources you have available. When we’re creative and persistent, we can find a way to do it.
The primary focus is home fire safety, for statistically and rationally sound reasons, so the ingredients are:
- The benefits of home fire sprinklers
- Photoelectric smoke alarms
- Bed shakers for young and elderly target groups
- Closed bedroom doors during sleeping hours
- Exit plans and drills with two ways out and a meeting place
- Carbon monoxide alarms
- NOAA weather radios
- Cooking safety, from the kitchen to the grill
- Heating safety, from furnaces to fire places and portable heaters
- Lighters and matches, from kids to adults
- Open flames, from candles to cigarettes and cigars
- Fireworks safety, from personal injury/death to property damage
- Flammable-liquid storage, from cans to portable equipment
- Open burning, from burn piles to campfires
- Holiday items, from Christmas trees and lights to candles and decorations
Prioritize this list based on your community’s needs, remembering that it doesn’t all have to be done in October and probably shouldn’t be. In fact, there are likely more appropriate times during the year for topics like fireworks and others.
Then, engage your staff, community groups, local businesses and anyone who can lend a hand. Many hands certainly make light work, but many busy hands get a lot more work done.
Break your list into manageable chunks, provide some vision and direction, then let your contributors run with it.
Following this recipe is a great investment that will return dividends in safety and awareness throughout your community and for your department—so let’s get cooking!