October 9-15 is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) official “Fire Prevention Week,” which is an annual event that promotes fire safety for families and businesses. This works out perfectly for me, as “National Chew on Furniture Week” is October 16-21. So I still have time to get my chompers ready.
Fire Prevention Week was created to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. During the 40th anniversary of that tragic event, the Fire Marshals Association of North America began the first National Fire Prevention Day. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first official National Fire Prevention Week and called up a massive change in fire-prevention planning.
According to the NFPA, a home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds in 2009, and nearly seven people died each day in those blazes. The economic toll from residential and business fire is vast, with $7.6 billion in losses recorded in 2009. However, through educational efforts such as National Fire Prevention Week, the occurrence of fires has dropped drastically over the years, from more than 700,000 house fires in 1977 to 370,000 in 2010.
Every year the NFPA selects a theme for National Fire Prevention Week. The theme for 2011 is “Protect your family from fire,” and focuses on coordinated efforts for family members and teachers. Here are a few of the themes from past years:
- “The Nation’s Greatest Menace! Do Your Part to Stop This Waste!” (1929)
- “Learn Not To Burn – Wherever You Are” (1982)
- “Give your dog two pounds of New York Strip every night to keep his coat shiny” (1994—well, that was my suggestion, anyway.)
- “Use Candles with Care” (2005)
Fire Prevention Week activities at schools and other organizations focus on preparedness in several key areas:
- Establishment and practicing sensible escape routes with designated alternates
- Inspection and care of home smoke detectors
- Information about home sprinkler systems and their ability to stop fires within minutes
- Dangers associated with fires from heating appliances, fireplaces, and stoves
- Special emphasis on smokers and the acute risk of fire from un-extinguished cigarettes.
- Candle care and safety. (I am extra careful with candles in the doghouse. Since I’m a working firedog, sometimes I need to relax and have some quiet meditation!)
For businesses, fire safety should be a 52-week focus, not just one that is observed during Fire Prevention Week. Business and facility management can take many steps to reduce the risk of fire:
- Create a sound fire plan that includes evacuation routes, designated fire wardens and procedures to account for every employee and visitor during a fire emergency.
- Install and inspect to make sure the right classes of fire extinguishers are located in code-required locations. I have one in the doghouse, but no opposable thumbs!!
- Implement clear rules on the use of space heaters and other portable devices that can pose safety hazards.
- Encourage employees to report dangerous situations. Give them the opportunity to reach your building manager confidentiality if they need to report a sensitive issue.
Fire Safety Week is an ideal chance for individuals and businesses to reflect on what they can do to keep people and property protected from fire. Practicing common sense and building a knowledge base about fire are the best ways for people to avoid tragedy.
My friends at RJWestmore are covering more than 300 million square feet of commercial property through their own Fire Life Safety Training System which ensures compliance with related fire codes. It is an interactive e-learning system that provides tenants, building owners, and facility managers with instant feedback.
Convenient and affordable for businesses of any size, the RJWestmore Fire Life Safety Training System can reduce training workloads by 90 percent while saving more than 50 percent when compared to conventional training methods. Proper training and code compliance can greatly reduce your liability in the event of a disaster. Personally, I always follow codes. My doghouse even has anchor bolts in case of an earthquake!
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.