USFA's Quick Response Program

Approximately two years ago Firehouse Magazine featured a story about the process and effectiveness of USFA's Quick Response Program. The Quick Response Media Corp, a part of the program that encourages fire service public information officers to sign up for fire safety and prevention messages from USFA, has continued to grow with approximately 1,400 members across the nation. Teaming up again with Hager Sharp, its public relations firm, USFA has a goal to grow the Quick Response Media Corp by 1,000 new fire service members by the end of the year. There is probably no better way to attack the fire problem "where it lives" than with this dynamic and effective program.

Sometimes we take the view that because we have done relatively well in reducing fire deaths in this country over the last couple of decades that we have licked the problem, but consider these facts. According to the USFA and NFPA in 2004 we responded to approximately 23 million calls (fire, false alarms, and EMS) in this country. Over five million of these were fire calls. The actual number of fires was 1,550,500. These are fires we know about. The true number is probably closer to two million. The death toll reached 3,900 with 17,785 injuries. We incurred $9.8 billion in property damage not counting the indirect costs of lost work time, home displacement, and psychological damage to families and communities where the fires occurred. A civilian dies from fire about every two hours around the clock and one is injured from fire every thirty minutes. If we were to compare these statistics with other countries through the CTIF, the agency which tracks world-wide statistics, we would still be in the top five countries with a significant fire problem. Naturally, the first line of defense lies in our ability to respond quickly. However, once the tones go out for an alarm, we are playing catch-up. Our fire rate has not decreased just because we have increased our response time from the station.

How Quick Response Works

USFA's Quick Response attacks the problem in two ways. The Quick Response program is designed to seize the teachable moment immediately following a residential fire death or injury in the community. USFA has 14 Fire Fact sheets with statistics and tips specific to fires of various causes, risks and prevention. Hager-Sharp and USFA track news accounts daily of residential fire deaths and injuries around the country. Hager-Sharp then promptly sends local media a fire fact sheet with information about how such a fire might have been prevented. They often follow up with calls, encouraging reporters to incorporate this fire safety information in their news stories. Additionally, the fact sheets are sent to fire stations in the local community so they can see the same information that has been sent to media in their area. Senior USFA spokespeople have found an additional use for the Quick Response information; they include selected fires in speeches and presentations, lending a real-time emphasis to the comments.

Where Are The Most Fires By State?

Approximately fifty percent of the nation's unintentional residential fire fatalities occur in ten states: From the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, 1999 - 2003.

  1. Texas
  2. California
  3. New York
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Michigan
  6. Illinois
  7. Georgia
  8. Ohio
  9. North Carolina
  10. Florida

USFA's Quick Response Media Corps members are clustered in the following states: click here. Now that you have a better understanding of where the most fires occur, it is a very simple "walk" to become a member of Quick Response. The more members who join in these states can make a real immediate impact on the fire problem. Regardless of the fact that there may be higher numbers of Media Corps members in certain of the "target states," the "markets" of these states reflect such high population and station concentrations that it requires an equally high number of Media Corp members. So, if you are not a member of the Quick Response Media Corps, click here for a sign-up sheet so your department can join.

Below is a recent edition of the Quick Response E-bulletin. As a member, you receive bimonthly e-bulletins that include helpful tips and resources for getting fire safety in the news.


A Word From USFA For Quick Response: We Need Your Help

According to Kathy Gerstner, Fire Program Specialist for USFA, Quick Response Media Corps currently has nearly 1,400 members across the country, and the U.S. Fire Administration is working to grow that number. Thanks to the International Association of Fire Marshals, which featured an item last November about the program in its IFMA Quarterly, we enrolled dozens of new members. Also, individual members seem eager to share the word in their counties, regions and states, and we're happy to have your help.

Please forward this message to fellow members of the fire service to help us get the word out that Quick Response needs your help getting fire safety in the news. Members incur no cost or obligation. They receive a free e-bulletin every other month with tips for working with the media. Members have access to past issues, a series of fire safety fact sheets, and periodic special offers of free tools, such as live-read radio scripts you can record for your local radio station to use as public service announcements-PSAs-(see sample below). If you would like the enrollment form to distribute at meetings or conferences, please e-mail quickresponse@hagersharp.com and the program staff will work with you to help recruit. Thank you for your continued work in keeping communities safe from fire.

Live-Read Radio PSAs: Escape Planning

In December, the U.S. Fire Administration introduced a set of five live-read radio PSA (Public Service Announcement) scripts to Quick Response Media Corps members. We are featuring one of the scripts in each edition of this e-bulletin. The first script was about smoke alarms, and below is the second script. It promotes escape planning.

Escape Planning Live-Read Script For Fire Service Members:

Hi, I'm (insert name) from the (insert name) fire department. If a fire breaks out in your home, do you know how you'll get out? Planning and practicing how you and your family would escape a fire safely can make all the difference.

Plan two routes of escape from every room. Designate a meeting place outside of the home. Remember: get out and stay out.


If you would like to receive all five live-read scripts, or if you have used the PSAs in your community and want to share your experience, please e-mail quickresponse@hagersharp.com.

Speaking of PSAs, special thanks to Staunton, IL, Fire Protection District Chief Rick Haase, who reported using the PSAs: The ads were sent to our local radio station. The ads sparked interest with the station. They did a follow up call with me and I was a featured guest on one of their weekend public service programs and to Fire Chief Merrill Seney from North Grosvenor-Dale, CT, who wrote: I had a meeting with the local radio station owner and we have planned to air the spots within the next few weeks using myself and four other area fire chiefs.

Fire Safety In The News

  • Lincoln, NE - On December 9, Lincoln Fire and Rescue members were quoted in an article that appeared on www.usatoday.com regarding electrical appliances and fire safety. This example of fire safety in the news prompted our staff to invite the quoted members to join Quick Response Media Corps. They are now among the newest members of the program. Welcome!
  • Little Rock, AR - On December 19, the Little Rock Associated Press interviewed acting U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson on children and fire safety following a string of residential fires that caused the deaths of 13 children over two months. Chief Dickinson encouraged parents to safeguard their children from the dangers of fire, and he emphasized the importance of working smoke alarms in the home.

Join The Quick Response Media Corp Today!

The public information sector is a critical sector of the incident command system. The Quick Response program is a chance to leverage the sector after the fire has occurred at the "teachable moment" through local media outlets and on-line news. Make your department part of this effective alliance to attack the fire problem at the point of the incident.

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