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Fire prevention is a function of many fire departments. The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public on the precautions that should be taken to prevent potentially harmful fires from occurring. It is a proactive method of preventing fire-based emergencies and reducing the damage caused by them. Fire prevention education can take the form of videos, pamphlets, and banners. Often, the messages and lessons are simple tips. Many fire departments will have one or more Fire Prevention Officers, which may also be a routine duty of firefighters.[1]

Safe practices

Smoke detector installation

The National Fire Protection Association identifies that 3 out of 5 deaths that occur during fires happen in homes that do not have smoke detectors installed or homes that do not have working smoke detectors. Research shows that the chances of dying in a fire are cut in half when smoke detectors are present. It is recognized that 74 percent of homes do have working smoke detectors installed.[2]

Generally taught more to adults (particularly homeowners), a core part of fire prevention outreach involves encouraging people to ensure that they have an adequate number of smoke detectors installed in their home and how to maintain them.

Sprinkler system usage

A wet-pipe sprinkler system is an automatic sprinkler system in which the supply valves are open and the system is charged with water. They are the quickest at getting water on the fire and are the simplest to maintain. Wet-pipe systems are installed where indoor temperatures can be maintained at or above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 °C). If the outside temperature is below freezing and the interior temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the steel sprinkler piping, which rapidly conducts heat and rapidly loses it, will cause the pipes to freeze. The frozen area may be isolated and near an opening or uninsulated portion of the building which could be enough to put the whole system out of service.

Stoves have sometimes caused accidental fires.

Reduction of false alarms

Much of fire prevention education also involves advice on how to reduce false alarms. False alarms have the potential to waste manpower and resources, which may be needed desperately during a real emergency. In addition, firefighters responding to calls in fire engines are at increased risk of traffic collisions when driving under emergency conditions. In 2008 the state of New York found that 18% of firefighter deaths in the line of duty had occurred whilst responding to calls.[3]

Stop, drop and roll

Main article: Stop, drop and roll

Stop, drop and roll is often taught as part of fire protection education efforts as it is both a simple technique and an effective way of extinguishing burning clothing. It is particularly suited to children who may panic if their clothing catches fire and they do not know how to put it out.

Target Audiences and Those at Risk

These groups of people are those that are considered at higher risk for fires and should are the target of fire prevention education in a way to better protect them from fire emergencies. These are also target audience such as students that can benefit from the knowledge of how to prevent fires from starting in their homes.


Firefighters teaching a class of young students about how to properly use a fire extinguisher

Children are a major target of fire prevention knowledge. Firefighters will often visit schools and teach students the basics of fire protection and fire safety, including how to evacuate from a burning building and how to prevent fires by avoiding dangerous activities such as playing with matches. Though fire can be a source of fascination for young children, the potential for accidents, as a result, is high. Fire prevention often aims to teach children not to play with fire so that they do not accidentally cause one.

One of the most critical jobs of a firefighter is search and rescue. For young children, it is important that firefighters are seen as people they can follow and trust. A firefighter in bunker gear breathing with an air tank could be an unfamiliar sight, especially to a child. One way a child can get used to or trust a firefighter is seeing a firefighter dress, step by step, seeing that they are a person wearing a uniform and protective equipment. Furthermore, being able to walk up and touch the firefighter can reassure the child that he or she is a real person.

Elderly and disabled people

Elderly and disabled people are potentially at greater risk in emergency situations as a result of poor mobility or intellectual disability from age. Fire prevention outreach often involves ensuring that these groups have a clearly defined plan of what to do in the event of an emergency and easy access to emergency exits.

Elderly people are considered by the United States Fire Administration those to be the ages of 65 and older and those that have mental and physical impairments and may rely heavily on medical supplements to get through their everyday lives. [4]

Landlords and caretakers

In many jurisdictions, landlords are responsible for implementing fire prevention and fire safety measures in accordance with various laws.[5] Landlords must perform regular fire safety risk assessments in order to identify if any properties could be potentially harmed by fires.


Hording is the disorder in which a person or group of people have a difficulty throwing away things they no longer need or parting away with any kind of possession because they believe that they will need to save them for something. Hoarding can range from mild cases that may not have a very heavy impact on a person’s life to severe cases where the daily function of the person is hindered by their actions [6]

Hoarding becomes a great fire hazard in severe cases because of the number of items that may pile up. Often the homes of hoarders will block exist that provide a means of escape for the occupants. Firefighters that are responding to an emergency in the home of hoarders may not be able to get to the occupants as quickly because they are obstructed from entering the building. Because of the increased fire load a hoarding environment creates those who live in occupancies in close proximity may be effective because of amplified smoke and fire conditions.[7]


According to the world health organization consensus there are around 1.3 billion smokers worldwide, 80 percent of those smokers are identified as those that live in low income area and middle income areas. [8]

While smoking is a commonly accepted thing that many people do in their daily lives out in public or in their own home it is important for those that smoke to know the fire risk they present. Approximately 500 smokers as well as nonsmokers are killed in fires that start because of improperly discarded cigarettes and ashes. Fires caused by smoking are the most preventable of all. Most fires that involve smoking start inside the home, when a smoker does not properly dispose of their ashes or cigarette butts, they can fall into things such as couches and chairs which quickly ignite. Smokers who discard their cigarettes and ashes in the trash can start fires that lead to other collateral damage. [9]

Fire prevention inspections

Many fire departments have fire prevention divisions, which consist of groups of firefighters who conduct building inspections to make sure they are compliant with fire codes; they also visit schools and daycare centers to make presentations about arson, malicious false alarms, and fire safety. Fire Prevention Officers may also conduct tours of their fire house for visitors. They demonstrate what each of their apparatuses does, and sometimes will don their bunker gear to show what a firefighter wears into a fire.

A typical fire prevention division consists of a Chief Fire Prevention Officer and Fire Prevention Officers. Those in the Fire Prevention Division have their own insignia, such as epaulets with two thin bars that read "FIRE PREVENTION OFFICER" below them; crescents on their helmets; and collar pins. Depending on its budget, a division may have its own fire vehicle.

National Observance and History of Fire Protection Month

Many fire departments observe "Fire Prevention Month" for all of October. Fire departments may visit schools, hang banners, give firehouse tours or hold open houses.[citation needed] Various fire organizations and fire professionals from all across the country attend, along with a number of students and teachers. Songs and entertainment regarding fire safety are also available making fire education fun. Guest speakers are also a large part of fire protection week.

Fire Prevention Week started in 1922 by the Nation Fire Protection Association. Having been started in 1922 and continued every year from then on, the observance of Fire Prevention Week is considered the longest running public health celebration in the United States. This observance was started in honor of the Great Chicago Fire that occurred on October 8th, 1871. This is why Fire Prevention Week occurs every October and specifically on the week that October 9th falls.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Vision 20/20". Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Smoke Alarms in US Home Fires report | NFPA". Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  3. ^ "National Fire Prevention Association". Archived from the original on 2010-12-26. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  4. ^ "Fire Safety for Older Adults". U.S. Fire Administration. Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  5. ^ "Fire Prevention". H2O Fire Sprinklers. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Hoarding disorder - Symptoms and causes". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  7. ^ "NFPA - Hoarding". Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  8. ^ "Tobacco". Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  9. ^ "Fire Prevention 52: Cigarette Butts (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  10. ^ "NFPA Fire Prevention Week". Retrieved 2024-04-15.