1. #1
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    Unhappy Are we failing the public??

    In light of several fatal fires as of late, are we doing all we can to educate the public about unsafe practices?? 3 people died in a fire in Indiana county, PA. in a fire that was probably caused by an overloaded circuit. So far there have been no smoke detectors found in the structure. One month ago, my department had a fatal fire in which a 17 year old was killed. There were no smoke detectors in the house and the rear door was nailed shut. The front door was partially obstructed by a refridgerator. The fire was also due to an overloaded circuit.

    My question is this: Do we spend to much of our time and money concentrating on suppression,instead of trying to also educate the public about the causes of fires??

    What types of programs do your departments use to educate?
    What mediums are used to reach them?
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    In our Department I think we fall short reaching the public due to a lack of resources. One idea that I recently came up with is to organize a panel made up of several Fire personnel ( Fire Inspection, Fire Prevention, Command Staff) and have our local newspapers post on thier webpage a Fire Department forum page that would have Fire Safety Tips posted every week or two and set it up for the general public to visit and post their questions for the panel to answer. Another option would be for newspapers to post the website's of the area Department's and the public could post their questions there and then the Department could post a response.

    If anyone is doing this currently I would be very interested to know if they are having any success?


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    Last edited by FF.1205; 08-04-2002 at 07:30 AM.

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    One of the things that we cannot compensate for is the lack of intelligence of the public. We as the fire service have been putting out the fire safety message for years... some people just don't get it....

    These are the same people that say they cannot afford a smoke detector....but they smoke a pack of cigarettes a day or more at a cost of anywhere between $3 to $5 a pack!

    These are the same people that say they cannot afford to have fire insurance...but have a big screen TV and a satellite dish mounted outside of the apartment window!

    These are the same people that when they do have a fire, they claim they are the victims and try to blame everyone else for what happened. They are victims..of their own making!

    All we can do is keep plugging and hope that the people will listen...you can't force them to!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 08-04-2002 at 01:06 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Gonzo.....you are right.... I can add a different twist. In my area I am fortunate enough to have BIG $$$$$ and NO$$$ homes. I have had people stop by the station and ask for smoke detectors or even a replacement battery and when I ask their address I find they live in the BIG$$$ homes. Conversely, when running calls in the NO$$$ homes we normally usually see one detector and in a lot of cases, they are proud to let us know..."I just changed my battery."

    It does not matter how well we attempt to educate....and education of the public is important..... "You can lead a horse to water but you can not make them drink1"
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    the public still has the mentality of "it will never happen to me!" well guess what, wrong! it can and there is a very good chance it will happen.
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    Ryan and Capt. Gonzo are entirely correct.

    Our neighboring city had a triple fatal fire earlier this summer. Firefighters went through the neighborhood giving out smoke detectors and talking to residents about fire prevention and safety. Two weeks later, there was a fire that killed four kids in the same neighborhood.

    You can try to reach everyone but you can't overcome the "it'll never happen to me" attitudes.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    We are one of the least fire conscience countries in the world. Which is quite a sad situation to say the least. The public does seem to have the "It'll never happen to me attitude that seems to be is so prevalent in our society".

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    Unhappy

    Unlikely conversation from a high percentage of parents...here, right now....the year 2002:

    "Daddy, can you buy me that new Rap Trap Boys double CD that is SO HOT?"

    "No dear...I need to spend that money on smoke detectors for the home."

    Sad....and probably true.
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    Could it be that we are using the wrong method to educate the public. If someone is driving 80 mph, hits a tree and kills someone the cops don't run up telling them how sad it is that this person died. They file criminal charges against them. Maybe if the fire service starts punishing people for stupid acts that result in fires the public might get the point. Think about it. How many times have you had a house burn down on your shift because of a stupid act by the home owner, and we fall all over ourselves getting Red Cross or some other relief agency to help the "poor victims" by putting them in a motel, buying them new cloths, etc. I know this doesn't sound very compassionate but have we really helped them? What type of lesson did they learn? Think a ticket or some jail time might make them, and any other home owner that shows up for the big fire pay a little more attention to what they are doing? I don't think this method would ever fly but is it something to think about?

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    Default Re: Are we failing the public??

    Originally posted by 1835wayne

    My question is this: Do we spend to much of our time and money concentrating on suppression,instead of trying to also educate the public about the causes of fires??

    It has been a while since I read them, but I believe that the publication of AMERICA BURNING and AMERICA BURNING REVISITED discussed this very issue. One thing I seem to remember is the findings concluded that more money/time needed to be spent on public education type programs. This was based on the fact that putting more money into suppression did not seem to have a significant effect on reducing civilian injuries, deaths, or number of fires.

    I don't have those papers with me now, so I am just trying to rememeber some of the details from the 'old memory banks'. I am sure someone else on here has a better recall/explanation.

    John

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    Hey Gonzo you hit it so right on the head. Too bad we cant get the govt. to legislate common sense to the general public. You hear the bleeding heart liberals of the world telling us that its an education thing, whats to educate people about nailing shut doors or putting batteries in detectors or driving under the influence. I dont believe its education, I think that if we make people responsible for their actions and punish them severly the first time, you hold them up as an example for the next idiot to think twice about his anal actions. Just my rambling thoughts, maybe sometime I'll tell you how I realy feel .

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    Default Hmmm....................

    Chief79 and Lt13,

    You both raise a very valid point. I am inclined to agree that some kind of penalty is in order. The only thing is, do we want to be in the same boat as law enforcment in regards to public relations? For instance, we would instantly be the bad guys if we cited the parents of the deceased 17y/o for not having a smoke detector and having an exit nailed shut. I don't feel a lot of sympathy for the parents. They did nothing to prevent this from happening. I feel sorry for this kid whose life is over almost before it had a chance to begin.
    I REFUSE to donate money or goods to the family of this young man,whose families NEGLIGENCE caused him to become a statistic.

    Chief, I would support legislation to punish the stupid, as long as law enforcement was responsible for enforcement. We could assist in any way possible, just like we do for arson fires.
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    My question is this: Do we spend to much of our time and money concentrating on suppression,instead of trying to also educate the public about the causes of fires??
    Time for me to make a few people mad.

    In my opinion, and I have stated this here before, that the fire service is horribly negligent when it comes to fire prevention and public education.

    Gonzo, we have been TRYING to get the fire safety message out for years, but we suck at it. There has been no appreciable reduction in the number of fire deaths in years. And when you combine that with the stat the total number of fires continues to go down, the death rate is actually rising.

    I heard a stat from the USFA the other day that said that 60% of the fire deaths in the US occur in homes with no smoke detectors. How can this be in the year 2002? Yeah, people are stupid, but we can teach a monkey to go into space and teach an elephant to stand on a freaking ball. If we devoted the time and effort to it, we could reach people with this message.

    What is your fire prevention and public education budget compared to your suppression budget? How many of you even have a fire prevention and education budget?

    How many of you applied for a federal grant for apparatus, or new gear, or physical fitness equipment? How many of you actually applied for a grant for fire prevention? I know the answer to the last question, very few of you.

    I also know why. We like our toys. We ride around in the very best of apparatus. We have the newest bells and whistles. But, begrudgingly, we go out the second week of October and have the kids roll around on the ground and call it public education. It's not enough and it's not working.

    In NJ, there is a program that offers FD's free smoke detectors by the case. How many depts. in NJ publicize this? Mine doesn't and won't. How many offer to go into the homes of senior citizens and low income people to check their detctor or install a new one? I kow the answer to that one, too. Hardly any. Fire prevention is not sexy. It's not fun. We'd rather go to fight the fires, not stop them before they start.

    And I am not talking about the depts. with not enough money in the budget for gear and decent apparatus. Thankfully, that's a minority (and it's a crime, too). I am talking about the vast majority of depts. who could do this if they wanted to.

    Here it comes. "We're only volunteer and we don't have enough money and we don't have enough time and it's not our job and we need new trucks and new gear because the town down the road got them". Heard em all. Not buying it. The honest answer is "We don't want to do it".

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    Default BRAVO George!!

    I am glad to see you come out to post on this issue. I will be the first to admit that my dept. doesn't have a budget for prevention and education at all. Unfortunately, we have one of the largest elementary schools in the county in our jurisdiction. We don't even go to the school in Oct. Why? Like you said, "we don't want to."

    I hope to affect a change in this regard. I am now the President of the dept. and may become an officer if I pass the test with a high enough score. Why do we accept the deaths of those we swore to protect? Why do we not attempt to prevent the cause instead of fighting the end result?

    Suppression will always be a integral part of what we do, but prevention needs to start getting the attention it deserves. To do any less, just doesn't make sense to me.

    George, if you have any ideas or suggestions on this , please pm or e-mail me.
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
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    In FY 2002, we had a budget of approximately $3.5 for fire education and a grant of $5.4K for a total of $8.7K

    We do go into the schools with the SAFE program (Student Awareness of Fire Education), targeted grade levels are Kindergarten through 4th grade.

    We take part in UMass Memorial/Marlborough Hospital's Summer Fun Safety Fair, sending an Engine company and using the District 14 Fire Safety House. We have a partnership with Monnick Supply, a local hardware store that we do a fire safety display with during Fire Prevention week..they also provided us with smoke detectors and fire extinguisher as prizes for an hourly raffle we did during the fair.

    We also do a program called The Fire Show on M10, one of our local cable access stations. We talk about our FD, give demonstrations of equipment and talk about fire safety. It airs a few times a week.

    Fire education really doesn't cost a lot. Do you have a park/playground in the neighborhood? Take a few fire safety handouts aimed at both kids and parents, park the rig and see what happens... Fire trucks are "kid magnets". Use the time to educate and communicate!

    Stopping by the supermarket to get provisions for lunch/dinner? a perfect time to educate and communicate!

    Going out on inspections? Another perfect time to educate and communicate!

    A group of kids coming by the firehouse for a tour? a perfect time to educate and communicate!

    We don't have to stand in front of a large group of people with a prepared speech for hours at a time to preach the fire safety message. A few people a few minutes at a time will work!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    George -
    In NJ, there is a program that offers FD's free smoke detectors by the case
    Can you forward some information about this program? My Department has been supplying detectors that were donated to us, this program would be helpful. Thanks in advance...

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    Default Here, here George.

    Great post George,

    Let me add one thing. There is a device that presently exists that can and will save lives and has the record to prove it. It has been in existance for many years and when properly designed, installed and maintained, will provide the highest level of life safety than any other. Most departments ignore them and the efforts of people like me to promote them. SPRINKLERS.

    Yes, I know that in some older communities, this is like closing the door after the horse left, but in many of our communities it is not. How many of you have gone out and supported your code enforcement officers and fire marshals when they proposed a residential sprinkler ordinance for your community? I like George also know that answer and know that it is very few.

    Most of you will be dispatched to a house fire sometime in the very near future. These fires are where most of our civilian fire deaths occur. How many more fires will you have to go to and carry out a lifeless body, who was most likely dead prior to your arrival. Statistics indicate that this is so. You can't match the record or performance of any residential sprinkler system in existance for life safety. There has never, NEVER been a multiple death fire in the US where a properly designed, installed and maintained sprinkler system has been regardless of occupancy.



    Captn Gonzo, your department needs to be commended for the very pro-active message that you have gotten out in your community. Does your community have a residental sprinkler program?

    I challenge each and everyone of you to stop and consider the impact that a residential sprinkler ordinance might have to your community. I would suggest that it will save many more lives than any other program you might implement.

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    We do not have a residential sprinkler ordinance. There are a few houses that are equipped with residential sprinklers, all of the new apartment and condominium complexes presently being built have them. The condo complex building that was rebuilt after the 4 alarm fire we had in February 2001 has them, the other building (saved by a trench cut!) was retrofitted.

    Part of the problem is the "Hollywood" portrayal of sprinkler systems. They always have them going off when someone activates a pull station, a smoke detector goes off or when a single head gets activated, they all open up. People are afraid of residential sprinklers...once again, it's an education thing, and I feel that we are sorely lacking in mentioning them. We do get questions about them, and we do inform John and Jane Q whenever we can. If I were building a new home today, I would definitely have them installed!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Default New homes and old dogs

    Stupidity and old ideas/impressions are not the sole ownership of the fire service. Hollywood has and continues to be one of the purveyors of misinformation about sprinklers and fire safety. Heck, how many of our newbees, still believe that fire behaves the way it did in Backdraft, and think that it is a "living and breathing being"? What a crock.

    If you haven't had a fire or been a fire fighter, what would you know about a fire in a structure? "Of course, what they showed last night on Friends has to be true. They wouldn't have had it on TV if it wasn't?" Heck if we believed everything they showed on TV (and I'm sure there's a person out there somewhere that believes everything he sees on TV), every car ever involved in a collision would explode and every shot that comes out of a gun hits its mark. But to take on Hollywood and win is a looser before ya get out of the gate.

    We need to do more. You said it best Gonzo. If I too were building a new house I too would install sprinklers. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. How many fire houses have sprinklers? Wish mine did, but the last time I brought it up, you would have thought that I just called everyones mother in the room something I can't put on the forum.

    The municipality that I work for as a Fire Marshal has done the right thing. Every building they now own has a sprinkler system. To be a leader means that you have to do the right thing. Are our fire stations sprinklered? Seems so many burn down each year.

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    The year is 2002, and you expect me to believe people in this country need to be educated about the value of smoke detectors? I can't count the houses I've been in that had detectors (I guess the education part worked that far...) that were disconnected or had dead/removed batteries. This isn't an issue of education so much as one of deliberate ignorance and apathy. Don't get me wrong...I feel fire prevention and education are the best tools we have to help keep people alive, but all the education in the world won't stop people from willfully ignoring the need for working detectors, sprinklers and extinguishers.

    We have an excellent fire prevention division with a large budget, strict code enforcement, provide free detectors, install them, check them on EMS and fire runs, hold public classes on prevention and what to do until FD arrival, and run school education programs every year (to name a few), and we still can't get people to check and maintain their detectors. What's the answer? Hold guns to their heads and demand they comply? Maybe we should fine people heavily if we find an inoperable detector or extinguisher, that would get their attention. You will never educate those who refuse to listen and take responsibility for their family's safety. In my opinion we need to educate the kids and instil a sense of how important fire prevention is at an early age, and develop good habits that last a lifetime (and maybe they'll educate a few parents along the way).

    I'm not so sure this is an issue of us failing the public as much as it is an issue of the public failing themselves. All we can do is continue to try, even if it falls on deaf ears.

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    Default Leading a horse to water

    D Kelly,
    Your department also needs to be commended on the fine job that they have done in the area of fire prevention. It is a thankless and tireless job. There are some very fine department that took the recommendations of America Burning and have indeed done an admirable job in the reduction of fire deaths in this country. However, you are very right that many just don't care.

    Unfortunately there are so many other departments that just don't do anything at all except respond to emergencies. I know one department that used to do in service fire inspections. At some point a fire chief (no longer there) decided that their time was better spent doing other things, and discontinued the practice. This same department now has a very heavy fire response load. Suprise, suprise.....

    I believe that your department is the exception rather than the rule. It's 2002 and still many departments, career and volunteer, don't spend any money or effort on prevention.

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    Bones, the program is administered by the NJ Division of Fire Safety. I know that after a multiple fatality fire in Flanders last year, therre were cases of free smoke detectors in town a few days after the fire. I also know that the Division donated a few cases of detectors to the Sussex County Fire PRevention Association a few months ago.

    My suggestion to you would be to contact the Division directly. There is a Field Rep that is assigned to Ocean County. Find out who it is (I'm not sure or I would tell you) and ask them how to get them.

    I wish I could have been more help.

    George

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    People tend to put things off, even important things. This is human nature. To better understand why people do stupid things, like taking batteries out of their smoke detectors to put them in a remote control, we have to look at ourselves. Think about it; how many firefighters themselves enforce adequate fire prevention in their own homes? Sort of like the mechanic that continually drives a car that is plagued with problems that could be repaired easily, yet he refuses to take the time to fix his own vehicle. With so many in the fire service taking such complacent attitudes towards the safety of their own families and property, is it any wonder there is no hard push for fire prevention programs in the their budgets? I'm not aware of any reports or studies concerning the implementation of fire prevention procedures by firefighters in their own homes, but, I think it's worth looking at. I would like all the forum members to take a look at their own homes and the homes of their friends and family members. I'll wager there are some of us who haven't tested our own detectors recently or instructed our own children how to get out alive.

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    Unfortunately, when it comes to budget time, the politicians (who have to ultimately vote on FD funding), think with their wallets and not their brains...as Ben Frankiln said, "Penny wise, Pound foolish!

    When a Chief submits his annual budget request to the finance committees, all they see are $$$$!

    A lot of them will tell a chief fire executive "if you want to fund a fire prevention bureau/program, you have to take it out of your personnel budget"...with companies running shorthanded as it is, supression funding will always win the contest for funds.

    No matter what you say to them, the bean counters can't understand that we need both prevention and suppression personnel. It's funny how the politico's can find an extra $25 to $50K to create a job for someone's wife/realtive/kid/big $$$ supporter a job at city hall, but can't find it to adequately fund a real fire prevention program in their community's FD!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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