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With 80.7 percent of all fire fatalities occurring in the home, fire safety education remains a key strategy to address fire fatalities.
National Fire Prevention Week is observed annually in the United States (U.S.) and Canada around the week of October 9. Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the event originates from the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, which burned from Sunday, October 8, 1871, to Tuesday, October 10, killed an estimated 300 people and left 100,000 homeless.
The Fire Marshals Association of North America, the oldest membership section of the NFPA, launched a commemorative Fire Protection Day in October 1911 to educate the public about the importance of fire prevention. U.S. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the week-long observation in 1925, noting that 15,000 individuals had lost their lives in a fire the previous year.
Today, more than 1.3 million fires were reported by fire departments across the U.S. in 2016 with an estimated 3,390 civilian fatalities. The NFPA reports that while the total number of fires decreased 0.3 percent from 2015, civilian deaths increased 3.4 percent over 2015 deaths, the highest number since 2007. Click here for the full report.
With 80.7 percent of all fire fatalities occurring in the home, defined as one and two-family homes plus apartments, fire safety education remains a key strategy to address civilian fire fatalities.
Experts agree that the widespread use of residential smoke alarms has helped save lives over the past 40 years. A working smoke alarm helps give individuals time to leave their homes in the event of the fire. In fact, according to the NFPA, the risk of dying from a fire is cut in half for homes with working smoke alarms.
Finally, if moving into a new home, remember to inspect the home’s existing smoke alarms. Remove and replace if in doubt about the alarm’s age. At a minimum, replace each alarm’s batteries with fresh ones.
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