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.
- New York
- North Carolina
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.