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Fire & Life Safety: Fire Prevention and Grassroots

Before we look at one of the best grassroots prevention efforts, let's look at the definition and some history.

A grassroots movement is driven by a community's politics. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.

Grassroots movements often happen at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party.

The earliest origins of the use of grassroots as a political metaphor are obscure. In a 1907 newspaper article about Ed Perry, vice-chairman of the Oklahoma state committee, the phrase was used as follows:

In regard to his political views, Mr. Perry has issued the following terse platform: "I am for a square deal, grass root representation, for keeping close to the people, against ring rule and for fair treatment."

A 1904 news article on a campaign for Teddy Roosevelt's possible running mate Eli Torrance quotes a Kansas political organizer as saying, "Roosevelt and Torrance clubs will be organized in every locality. We will begin at the grass roots."

One of the best fire-prevention grassroots efforts to move across the United States in 2012 is "Fire is Everyone's Fight." This campaign came out of social marketing research commissioned by Vision 20/20, a grassroots effort to define and help implement a national strategy for fire prevention in America.

Vision 20/20 is a program of the Institution of Fire Engineers, United States of America Branch. "Fire is Everyone's Fight" is designed to get every man, woman and child thinking about the importance of fire prevention.

Specific objectives are to help people across the nation:

  • Move from viewing home fires as unavoidable accidents to understanding that they can be prevented.
  • Learn the actions they can take to prevent home fires, particularly cooking fires.
  • Install smoke alarms and keep them in good working order.

Accomplishing these objectives will take a concerted effort by fire departments, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, private companies and citizens across the United States.

A wide range of approaches will help partners and stakeholders understand that fire is indeed everyone's fight and there are actions we can take to protect those we care about, our homes and ourselves.

The theme was designed to create a new social norm: fires can be prevented, and we all have a role to play in ensuring they are prevented. The theme is intended to be an easily understood and memorable phrase that encompasses a range of potential actions we can take to prevent fires or mitigate loss if they occur.

USFA envisions the theme being used on all prevention materials so it becomes highly recognizable over time; whenever we see or hear it, we immediately think of actions we can take to make our homes safe.

"Fire is Everyone's Fight" is an initiative designed to make a difference and ultimately save lives. It will take everyone—members of the fire service, organizations, retailers, citizens and even children—to help fight fires through prevention efforts.

Every organization and every person has different resources available to them that can help support the initiative. Where one may have funding for an interactive "Fire is Everyone's Fight" mobile exhibit, another may have workers who can pass out customized flyers in their communities.

The opportunities to reach each and every person and each community in the United States are limitless.

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