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    Default NFPA/Harris Interactive Survey Results

    This link will take you to the report on the Harris Interactive Survey, comissioned by the NFPA.

    http://www.nfpa.org/assets/images/Pu.../FPWsurvey.pdf

    You have to read this. It says, among other things:

    1. 96% of Americans have a smoke detector installed in their residence (somebody tell me the problem with this number).

    2. 87% of Americans have never experienced a fire

    3. 77% of Americans use candles regularly

    If 1 and 2 are true, then, I would submit, it is up to the fire service to ID the very, very small segment of the population where all the deaths are taking place and provide a targeted fire safety education effort to them. Read this closely, as it could potentially have a huge impact on fire loss in the US.

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    George, on a not so un-serious side, the 4% of americans without smoke detectors are firefighters in their firehouses.

    The 96% I can't believe, the 87% I can.
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    Another 'error' i picked up (did stats in college ) was that this survey was a telephone survey. Not ever home in America has a phone.

    Also, I would argue that the homes without a phone are usually urban, rundown areas where people cannot afford a phone.

    Furthermore, I would also state that if an individual cannot afford a phone they probably are not concerned about buying batteries for their aged smoke detectors if they have one in the first place.

    And lastly, where do many deaths from fire occur? I don't have that data but I would think the more urban areas are up there.

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    If I'm reading this correctly, it was based on a survey of 1,014 people...it that enough of a base to be valid when making statements like "96% of Americans have a smoke detector installed...".


    In addition, a LARGE segment of our structure fires occur in Amish residences (no smoke detectors)...I doubt if they took a telephone survey.
    Last edited by StayBack500FT; 02-09-2005 at 09:37 AM.
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    Originally posted by StayBack500FT
    If I'm reading this correctly, it was based on a survey of 1,014 people...it that enough of a base to be valid when making statements like "96% of Americans have a smoke detector installed...".


    In addition, a LARGE segment of our structure fires occur in Amish residences (no smoke detectors)...I doubt if they took a telephone survey.
    Hey StayBack...just how do the Amish folks "call" the FD? Smoke signals??

    I guess none of the people in my county were part fo the survey. 96% with detecttors, hardly. 65-70% perhaps...
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    Default Pardon the side step...

    just how do the Amish folks "call" the FD?
    The ones I have been to rode their bikes to the nearest phone and then called. Added some big delays in reporting/responding.
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    The problem with the 96% number is that there was no mechanism for asking if they had been tested to insure they were working or if they had a battery in them.

    BTW, if you guys know the figures on what populations may need to have assistance with smoke detectors, why don't you demonstrate your seriousness and go knock on their door and give them at least one?

    That is what I am talking about when I say "targeted".

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    I see what you are saying.




    The Amish in our area usually run to a "Yankee" neighbor.
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    Originally posted by StayBack500FT
    If I'm reading this correctly, it was based on a survey of 1,014 people...it that enough of a base to be valid when making statements like "96% of Americans have a smoke detector installed...".
    Actually, it is, provided the sampling technique is valid. To be specific, for a population the size of "adults, 18 years of age or older, living in private households in the U.S." a sample size of 1,014 will give you a margin of error of +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level (or +/- 4% at a 99% confidence level). Sample size requirements hardly change for population sizes above 20,000.

    There are some troubling issues, however. First, as Jeff indicated in his post (above), there should be a correlation between lack of phones and lack of detectors, and this part of the population would not be sampled in a phone survey. Whether there was any attempt to adjust for this in the "advanced probability sampling techniques" used to choose the sample, I don't know, but I'm a bit skeptical. Second, as George pointed out, no attempt was made to find out if the detectors that were (allegedly) present actually worked, and this is a pretty important point. In addition, I'm not sure what "private households" are. I might believe that 96% of owner-occupied residences with phones in the U.S. have detectors in them (working or not), but I have a hard time believing that number for all residences of all types. Lastly...and this is pure speculation...there is often a respondent bias in these types of surveys toward telling the interviewer what the respondent thinks the interviewer wants to hear rather than the truth. For this reason, I would put more faith in the answers to the candle related questions (which would seem innocuous to most respondents) than the detector or sprinkler questions.

    I can't say definitively that the survey results are wrong, but I do think it's reasonable to be skeptical of some points.

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    Thanks for the info Bob, I'm never to old to learn.
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    The ones I have been to rode their bikes to the nearest phone and then called. Added some big delays in reporting/responding.
    I imagine so...I tip my hat to the Amish for sticking to what they belive. We could use a little more of that these days. But I dont think I could live that way. We were without power at my house for a total of 10 days last Sept. during the hurricanes and it was HELL

    Sorry, back to the topic...
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    1,000 doesn't sound like a valid test number for what? 100 million?

    One thing I learned: statistics can be pulled any way you want them to go.

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    Smile I Dunno...................

    I'm not sure about the other numbers, but my experience here is that the "Candle" figure is good, if not a bit low. Candles are a problem. I recently worked a mutual aid job, 450K+ Single family, where the electricity was on, heat was on, smoke detectors worked, everything was just peachy, except for the several candles scattered thru the house for god knows what purpose. The cause of the Fire, Thru the roof as we approached, was a candle that apparently fell over and ignited combustibles on a top of a dresser in a bedroom. The smoke detector seemed to work, but those who were downstairs claimed that they didn't hear it. Two closed doors between the detector and the occupants, along with a loud TV, were mentioned. When asked about the purpose of the candles, I got a blank stare from the homeowner, followed by "we always have a candle burning, it's just something we like". These folks seemed to be First generation Americans, with deep roots on another continent, but that is not unusual here. At the other end of the spectrum, People who have no electricity also have a lot of fires, and Injuries/Fatalities as well, from using candles. Answers to these problems? We're looking..........
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    Last data that I saw indicated that about 50% of the BATTERY-powered smoke detectors do not function due to either dead or missing batteries, which correlates with my experiences in both Vermont and Louisiana.
    Also it's not uncommon to have found electric-powered smoke detectors with wires cut intentionally by the occupants (in both owned and rented propererties) to disable them if they became a nuisance. Unfortunalty dispite all the information we throw (and that's a key word) out there a lot of folks just don't get the message, simply because fire is not perceived as a serious problem in the United States, which is a diffrent view than most of the industrialized world.

    As wonderful as a targeted program would be, the reality is that it's awfully tough to accomplish until the US fire service stops spending an average of 1% of thier budgets on public education. Europe and Asia has been running extensive targeted programs for years and years, and by the way, they spend 15-25% of thier budgets on public education. Its a lot easier to run a targeted approach with that kind of money..... and it's a lot easier to "shotgun" the info out there with the 1% of the budget and, in most cases even in the larger cities, less staffing than a single engine company.

    Maybe we need to stop talking about 6 man engine companies.... and talk about staffing the public education divisions around the country with some real bodies with public education expertise and training. Then we can start talking about targeted approaches.

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