1. #1
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    Smile Fire Prevention Basics

    I don't see a lot going on in this forum, so I'm just going to talk about some fire prevention related issues.

    We just got through Fire Prevention Week a little over a month ago, and most of the country did the "Change your clock, change your battery." promotion shortly thereafter (we didn't in Arizona, but that's another story).

    How many folks realize that the recommended monthly testing of your smoke alarms only tests the functionality of the battery and alarm circuit, and not the detection portion of the smoke alarm?

    Reality is that its not practical for most folks to test their smoke alarms for proper operation, including the smoke entry test. However, if you are testing the smoke alarm for a citizen as a representative of the fire department, you might consider the use of one of the available testing aerosols.

    Precautionary Statement: Most smoke alarm manufacturers recognize the use of test aerosols. Some may still not endorse it, and the only way you will know is to consult the literature that came with the detector...you know, the paper inserts that were thrown away with the packaging that the detector came in. I'll try and do some research on this issue for future postings. In general, if you use the aerosol sparingly, in accordance with the directions that come with it, you should not have a problem. Manufacturers are concerned about contaminating the detector to the point where it will not function properly, when needed.

    In order to test a smoke alarm in this manner, you hold the spray can of test aerosol about two to three feet away from the device, and issue a short burst of "test smoke" into the detector. You want a nice, light cloud of aerosol; do not soak the detector with aerosol. This should activate the detector and the integral alarm. If the smoke alarms were installed when the house was constructed, and there are multiple alarms throughout the house, they will probably be interconnected, so that the alarm sounder in every device will operate simultaneously. Older installations, and smoke alarms that are solely battery powered, will not be interconnected, in which case only the device in alarm will sound. If there is air movement near the detector, it may not operate since the aerosol may not stay in the detection chamber long enough to activate the alarm (manufacturers have to build in some resistance to unwanted alarms as a part of the device). If this happens, the air flow may need to be blocked temporarily, to conduct this test. Placing a clipboard or file folder on the upwind side of the detector usually is sufficient. If not, spraying the aerosol into a large paper or plastic drink cup, and then placing it over the detector may do the trick.

    Once the device has sounded, the aerosol needs to be cleared from the detector. This can be done by fanning it with your clipboard or file folder; or you can use a can of compressed "air" available at most computer stores (again, be careful spraying this into the detector, because it really isn't air).

    If required, document the test results and move on to the next smoke alarm. Continue this procedure until you have confirmed the proper operation of all of the detectors in the household.

    Another Cautionary Statement: It is estimated that most household smoke alarms have a usreful life of about ten years. Most smoke alarms become more sensitive with age, which means that they start casing more unwanted alarms. It is also possible that an internal electronic component will fail, preventing proper operation, which is why we test them in the first place. If a smoke alarm needs to be replaced, it needs to be replaced with the proper device. Stand-alone battery powered detectors are easy. The devices that are installed in new construction, 120 VAC, interconnected, with battery back-up may not be so easy; this may require the help of a qualified electrician, since the replaced device must be compatible with the existing devices.

    Enough for now. If you like this type of discussion, let me know, and I will try to come up with more.
    Last edited by dhavenshome; 11-17-2002 at 02:38 PM.
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of suppression! Sometimes even more!

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    Great to see alittle activity in here...As firefighters our job's most important function is to protect life and property. This is best accomblished by educating our citizens in basic fire prevention behaviors such as the one you just talked about. Most groups I talk with are not aware of the ten year life span on detectors. Our job should be educating our citizens in this matter. This can be done through our local media, prevention talks, displays at special events.Fire deaths are up in our state and I'm afraid some maybe accounted to the fact that these people may of had detectors with good batteries but detection devise was out dated and not as sensitive as it should of been. Dates on some older detectors are hard to find , some are even written in codes. When you can not find a date call manufactor and ask them location of date or how to read their code. Our job is not only to educate the public but to help spread the word to other departments in our areas about the life span on detectors. I like the idea of the ten year battery and detector made together so when one goes out you have to replace it. Just hope ten year batteries work.
    Last edited by Bootsatcfd; 11-19-2002 at 06:24 PM.

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    I have a question with regards to Fire Prevention and talks with school age children K-8. At what time or grade level do you stop with the stop, drop, and roll and move onto something better? Then how do you keep the attention of your audience interested when they reach at least the 4th grade age and up?

    I have the prospects of becoming the next Fire Marshal for the town and have heard from many members that the kids are getting tired of the stop, drop, and roll. Don't get me wrong this is a great basic routine for young children along with feeling the door with the back of your hand for heat. But how do you captivate the audience when it seems like your just going through the motions and your audience picks up on it? I need something to catch the interest of the older children.

    Thanks
    "The saw won't start, heh, grab the axe and start chopping"

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    Lightbulb Pub Ed for 4th and 5th Graders

    The program we have in place is a review of last year's behavior and add a new behavior.

    K- Stop, Drop and Roll

    1st- Review SD&R, Don't be afraid of fire fighters (put turn outs on in front of the kids)

    2nd- Review K and 1st, Crawl low in Smoke and Smoke detectors

    3rd- Review, Home Escape Plans (everyone takes home a packet and returns a signed letter for prize drawings)

    4th- Review, How fast fire can develop using "Countdown to Disaster" Video

    5th- Review, Using 911 properly with a dispatcher to help with the presentation

    Hope this gives you an idea

    We also use Dalmatians to help teach these behaviors.

    To see how go to : community.al.com/cc/getoutwithscout
    Lt C. Carpenter BS, NREMT-P

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    Nice to see some of these posts!

    Let me add a quick sermon: I just returned from a 2 week course at the Nat'l Fire Academy (NFA)- Community Education Leadership. What a GREAT class! I learned so much!

    The NFA is the best kept secret in the fire service! You meet and network with fire service professionals from all over the US. Many of the course count toward college credits.

    And it is all for FREE! Except for your time of course. I would encourage all of you to apply to a resident course. The application period is now. NFA is located in Emmittsburg, MD right down the street from Camp David.

    The NFA also has some internet based courses available to take. One of them is titled: Community Safety Educators (Q118)

    The web page with other stuff is here:

    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/dhtml/fire-...e/nfa-off3.cfm

    This would be an excellent course to take at your own pace. It is also worth 1 semester credit hour toward a college degree!

    Go to this site for further information on all courses at the NFA:

    http://training.fema.gov/

    Best Regards,

    Bill Delaney
    Program Manager - Community Safety Education
    Montgomery County Fire & Rescue
    101 Monroe St., 12th Floor
    Rockville, MD 20850
    (O) 240.777.2448
    (P) 301.629.2306
    (C) 301.648.1262

    http://www.mcfrs.org

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    Cool Smoke alarm awareness

    Greetings fellow Fire Safety Educators,

    I am involved in my department's Fire Safety Program, and we have found a shocking problem in our community. As stated in Firehouse before, we have found truth in the fact that kids aren't waking up to smoke alarms.

    With the help of a local TV station (WKBW-TV) in Buffalo NY, we conducted a test with an elementary school in our village. As found in other communities, we learned the same shocking lesson others have learned,kids just are not waking up to the smoke detectors in their homes. We staged a test in one of the homes of our residents and used our smoke machine to smoke the house up, and set off the detectors. Amazingly, neither of the two children woke up to the detectors outside thier rooms. We had addtional detectors both upstairs, and downstairs set off also creating the effect of a home with hard-wired detectors. With all 5 or 6 detectors blaring, the kids still had to be shaken to be awakened. The mother was more shocked of this than we were, that her children never woke up to the noise.

    My question to all this is?? What can we do to make the smoke alarm industry aware of this problem? And how can we adjust our education programs to this?

    Our thoughts were to have parents stage drills in the middle of the night, so that the children are aware of what the alarm sounds like when they are awakened out of their regular sleep patterns. Among other thoughts are to campaign the industry of this problem with our demand to atleast address our concern quickly.
    Sept. 11,2001 shall forever be a day which darkened the horizon, and burdened the hearts of many. But the lives that were lost, shall live forever, and shall never be forgotten. "Stay Low, and Be Well" for you are in our hearts forever Brothers.

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    Default Kids and Smoke Detectors

    That's a really scary revelation Capt. Sounds like we need to get someone to do some more research on how kids react to smoke alarms. I did find a reference to the study in a WPBF web page. Is there any other written documentation on the study?

    Thanks,
    Dwight
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of suppression! Sometimes even more!

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    In light of new facts about children not waking up to smoke alarms going off, we have changed our teaching plan when talking with adults.We still cover all the bases of a Home Escape plan but we now stress the parents involvement in making sure little ones are awake. We encourage Parents to assign which adult or older children wakes up which child and to practice this during their drills.(pretty much same behavior we teach parents about what to do if they have infants or disabled children at home) During drills parents may also see need to make changes in a childs sleeping arrangement, such as moving child closer to their bedroom. When teaching children about a home escape plan have them talk with parents about who is going to make sure they are out.I would like to see study done if families continually practice their drills- do children become more responsive to alarms going off.
    In reference to Knighthawks question, I agree with Firedog 1's response, never quit teaching the basic prevention behaviors just keep adding to them. (last year we had a fatality involving a senior adult that would have been alive today if she had practiced Stop, Drop and Roll). To keep program interesting and informative to people as they age add alittle more detail each year - more why's and how comes. Also look for different delivery methods such as - puppets to characterization to videos to power points etc. Try using alittle magic in presentations this keeps their attention. But don't let magic become the focus but a tool to encourage involvement/attention in program or lecture.

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    Thumbs up Fire Education that doesn't grow old (and stale).

    I like your thoughts, Boots et al. I am not a firesafety educator, but I work with some excellent folks who are. I agree that you have to stick to the basics, and you have to keep the basics simple, if you want anyone to remember what to do in an emergency. As the kids get older, the are able to understand exactly what fire is and does, if we can explain it to them in terms they understand.

    The basics can be handled, but you can start to introduce the reasoning behind the actions...we crawl low under smoke, because its hot and nasty...we can start to explain how hot and how nasty, and exactly what that soup can do to us human beings in a fire. By high school, you need videos like "Fire Power" from the NFPA, which introduces the concept of flasover in house fires, and delineates exactly how much time you are dealing with, just to keep things interesting; I know that the NFPA, writer-tech.com, and a coalition of college fire prevention folks just finished a video for use in educating college students to the hazards presented to them in a dorm-life setting. In Phoenix, we have a whole different group of educators working with our senior citizens, to provide them age-relevant fire and life/hazard safety education programs. (How do you evacuate a high-rise full of elderly people? Certainly not the same way you evacuate a college dormitory.)

    From my personal experience, it was my high school chemistry teacher's interest in the chemistry and physics of fire and explosions that kept me interested enough, along with my desire to help people, and to pursue a career related to fire prevention.

    Enough said for now.
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of suppression! Sometimes even more!

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    Lightbulb Be Aware & Stay Aware


    I'm glad to see that this has really taken off.

    I think that since alot of this has come to light, the industry has taken things to heart. But, we still need to teach the basics when it comes right down to it. Escape plans have to be a priority when we think of our Fire Safety Programs. If our little ones aren't waking up, we need to be their eyes and ears. And, once we have found a problem we need to be there for them.

    If our people don't know we have a problem that's bad enough. But if they don't know how to escape, once a problem arises, that's even worse. The EDITH program has become a major push now with our program, even more so than before. Knowing what to do when the alarm goes off, is just as important as knowing why the alarm is going off. Teaching the basics to our little ones is much the same as teaching our new firefighters. We stress what to do in a situation with the "newguys" at the fire station when it comes to escaping in a fire. We need to do the same with all of the people we teach fire safety to.

    Once we start teaching people of all ages that you need to GET OUT & STAY OUT, we will begin to be on the right track. Home escape drills will only help to enlighten people of the problems we have out there. Maybe with more people running them in the middle of the night, we will begin to understand WHAT that alarm is??...and know WHAT TO DO once the alarm does go off.
    Sept. 11,2001 shall forever be a day which darkened the horizon, and burdened the hearts of many. But the lives that were lost, shall live forever, and shall never be forgotten. "Stay Low, and Be Well" for you are in our hearts forever Brothers.

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    Thumbs up Getting the Message Out

    The information on how kids are not waking up to smoke alarms was news to me, but the media is starting to get the message out to the public. Our local ABC affiliate has picked up the story (without any proding by the fire department) and has been advertising that they will be airing it during tomorrow's News segments. (I'll bet that a lot of our members will be surprised.) Larger departments, like Phoenix, typically have a public information group that deals with the media all of the time. Smaller departments, which don't have the luxury of a separate Public Information Office, can still contribute by regularly sending out "HOT" bulletins to local radio and televison stations.Don't forget local newspapers.

    Even national magazines are doing a better job at getting the information out. I just opened my December "This Old House" magazine, and was please to find a small, 1/3 page, section on the fire hazards of the holiday season.
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of suppression! Sometimes even more!

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    Some really good discussion here relating to the kids and smoke alarm issue!

    Another item everyone might want to consider is making sure all our department members are aware of this issue and what the department stance will be. That way, your department will get out a message to the public that is consistant.

    I am getting out information to all our personnel that will mirror much of what has been discussed in this forum.

    Stay Safe!

    Bill Delaney
    Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue

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    Default Interesting

    Good disscussion on kids and smoke detectors. I'm the fire marshal in a small department(I'm the only full time employee). One of my main areas of responsibility is fire prevention and fire safety education. In Michigan our State Police has a Safe at Home program that kinda follows the DARE program. I will be teaching this is our school next fall. I'm interested in any programs, literature etc. that you all might be aware of. Looks like a good place to share information.

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    Lightbulb Risk Watch Program

    The NFPA has a program called Risk Watch that is used in Alabama with success. It is a multi-risk educational program that is tailored for each grade level from Pre K - 8th grade. The subjects include:

    Motor Vehicle Safety
    Fire and Burn Prevention
    Choking Suffacation and Strangulation Prevention
    Poison Prevention
    Falls Prevention
    Firearm Injury Prevention,
    Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
    Water Safety

    In Alabama there is a grant program in place through The Alabama Fire College to provide funding for an initial set of Risk Watch Program books. Risk Watch information on the program, and some of it's sucess in Alabama is available on the AFC web page, as well as a link to the NFPA Risk Watch page. {Use link below}

    http://www.alabamafirecollege.org/riskwatch.htm

    Stay in it!
    Lt C. Carpenter BS, NREMT-P

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