FEMA Launches New Campaign for Smoke Detectors

FEMA Launches New Campaign for Smoke Detectors

A year-long campaign to get smoke detectors into the homes of those who need them most has been launched by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

Aimed at minorities, the elderly and the handicapped, the campaign that started during Fire Prevention Week is based on the theme, “Smoke detectors save lives—don’t stay home without one.” FEMA reports that half of the nation’s homes have smoke detectors, but those of the target group are still mostly unprotected.

Recent findings about smoke detector use nationwide indicate that:

  • The chances of dying in a fire are reduced by one-half if a smoke detector is present in the home.
  • Smoke detectors are giving the first warning of a fire in about 40 percent of all cases—a significant percentage considering that most fires occur while occupants are awake.
  • Twenty-one percent of all homeowners with detectors received them as gifts.
  • Only 38 percent of the homes with greatest likelihood of having a fire (those with family income of $15,000 or less annually) have smoke detectors.
  • In the 50 percent of all homes without detectors, only 10 percent of the homeowners cited cost as a reason for not buying a smoke detector. The reason generally cited was that detectors are “not important.”

Because much of the nation’s annual loss due to fire—approximately 8000 deaths, 230,000 injuries, and $5 billion in property—is preventable and because the smoke detector is the single device with the greatest potential to reduce fire losses, support for the campaign is almost universal. FEMA is working in partnership with several organizations in the Joint Council of Fire Service Organizations on the campaign. In addition, a number of federal and state agencies, trade groups, industry and business interests also are assisting in the effort.

A resource package containing camera-ready flyers, posters and brochures; public service announcements; articles; and similar resource materials will be distributed shortly to participating organizations. Materials in the kit are designed so that each group can tag the materials with its own logo. In addition, bulk Quantities of smoke detector brochures prepared by several federal agencies are available.

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