Fire Prevention Education Can Take Many Forms
Industrial Fire Safety
Many of our Fire Engineering articles in the past have expounded the virtues of fire prevention, education and systems. Now that the report of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, “America Burning,” has been published, fire education and prevention may at last take its rightful, practical place in assisting in the endless battle to reduce the needless fire losses we incur in the United States each year.
The commission summary says of prevention and education: “There needs to be more emphasis on fire prevention. Fire departments, many of which confine their roles to putting out fires and rescuing its victims, need to expend more effort to educate children on fire safety, to educate adults through residential inspections, to enforce fire prevention codes, and to see that fire safety is designed into buildings. Such efforts need to be continuously evaluated so that the nation can learn what kinds of measures are most effective in reducing the incidence and destructiveness of fire.
“Americans must be educated about fire safety. Most destructive fires are caused by the careless actions of people, largely through lack of concern and ignorance of hazards. Many fires caused by faulty equipment rather than carelessness could be prevented if people were trained to spot the faults before it’s too late. And many injuries and deaths could be prevented if people knew how to react to a fire, whatever its cause.”
Difficult job: We know that it is difficult for most fire departments, whether paid or not, to use part of their manpower and funds to start a fire prevention bureau, as fire suppression has always been their main interest.
Industrial plants and all other types of occupancies must be inspected and their occupants educated in fire prevention in cooperation with the local fire department through the use of readily available publications, films, and methods. Everyone must work together if any measure of success is to be attained. It is also expected that industries will contribute funds to local volunteer fire departments so that adequate local assistance will be available.
Some municipalities have a fire prevention bureau separate from the fire department. We congratulate these advanced, thoughtful areas for their interest in the lonesome job of providing a measure of fire survival for their citizens.
Fire Prevention Week: October 7-13 is Fire Prevention Week and, regretfully, in most cases it is the only week when any emphasis is placed on the subject. However, it is possible for industrial plants and fire departments to organize and present programs to the citizenry during this week that will stimulate their interest in and knowledge of fire prevention, fire suppression equipment, fire department operations, home evacuation plans and fire hazards.
It is recommended that every city and village prepare for Fire Prevention Week. The following activities are suggested: displays and demonstrations of fire suppression equipment, open house at fire stations, and demonstrations of the dangers of many materials, such as plastics and liquids, and the safeguards that must be observed.
In schools, films can be shown, especially grades K to 5, and essay and coloring contests can be held under the sponsorship of the fire department or civic-minded merchants or organizations. Posters can be displayed in store windows, schools, churches and industrial plants. You can also conduct home evacuation demonstrations and hand out pamphlets. Radio and TV stations can interview fire chiefs, fire prevention bureau personnel and other persons qualified in fire safety. Plants, stores, schools and hospitals can be inspected with a view to removing hazards by practical means. These are only a few subjects that can be used successfully to prevent fires, and if they are correctly presented, they will greatly improve your public image.
More time than money: It will take time and some money—but more time than money. It is not difficult as the ammunition is readily available. You have the guns, now you only have to organize a schedule and present the story to a general public completely uneducated in our field.
By using materials that have been available for many years, you can conduct a fire safety program in schools, both public and sectarian, that will prepare the future adults for the flammable world we live in. Here again, it is a year-round project, and we are positive that the local fire department and qualified residents will give their time and assist in every way possible.
We cannot give up on the parents, and as service clubs and women’s groups are always looking for programs and speakers, the fire story can be carried to the older members of the family.