As with previous years, the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) leveraged Fire Prevention Week (FPW) as a springboard to engage stakeholders at a time when fire is a focal point for the media and fire safety community. This year’s FPW week theme, set by the NFPA, was “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.” This is a play on FSRI messaging launched in 2020, “Fire Moves Fast. Plan Ahead to Save Lives.” As a result, FSRI was optimally positioned to amplify this theme as it directly ties to its core fire safety messages for the public:
- Have and practice an escape plan
- Having working smoke alarms properly installed in your home
- Close Before You Doze®
The campaign is anchored on a new video series that uses FSRI research data and footage, combined with custom 3D modeling, to show the public what conditions are like in an actual home fire versus what they have seen on TV. Featuring vice president and executive director, Steve Kerber, as FSRI’s spokesperson, the videos show fire growth and spread in different types of homes ranging from a high-rise apartment to a two-story single-family house. The first video in the series What’s so dangerous about smoke? shows how a home fire grows and spreads, underscores the dangers of smoke and encourages everyone to have and practice a fire escape plan – including what to do if they cannot escape.
The video series is being promoted through an integrated amplification plan, leveraging many tactics across owned media (what FSRI/ULRI share across our own channels - websites, social media, email), earned media (outside individuals, organizations and media sharing our messaging and content because they find value for their stakeholders - this is free, or value-add, to FSRI), paid media (advertising, paid placement), and a new kind of outreach for FSRI:
This year, to better reach underserved populations where fire risk is high, in addition to targeted local media efforts and Spanish language materials, we are expanding our outreach to include local community influencers. Rather than the typical online “influencer”, we are reaching out to people and organizations who are making a real impact in strategic communities for our campaign. We have kicked off collaborations in the Bronx, Detroit, Fresno, Los Angeles City/County, and Philadelphia. From major hospital systems to urban neighborhood programs, we are working to equip them with knowledge and resources to be fire safety ambassadors. Each influencer group will be connected with their local fire department and will receive outreach materials to share at upcoming events.
“The fire service responds to a fire every 23 seconds in the U.S and the number of home fire deaths is going up,” said Steve Kerber, vice president and executive director of FSRI. “In just three minutes or less, a room could be more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and filled with deadly levels of toxic gas from the smoke. Knowing your escape route and having multiple routes for escape can mean the difference between life and death.”
Regardless of the type of home you live in, an ideal fire escape plan includes a plan A, B and C with two ways to get out of every room and options for when you cannot escape. If escape routes A and B are blocked, plan C is to get behind a closed door, turn on the light and dial 911. A closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames. In fact, there can be a 900-degree Fahrenheit temperature difference between a room with an open door and one with a closed door. While a room with an open door may reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a room with a closed door may only reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Escape Plans A, B and C should be practiced by everyone in the household.
Results from FSRI’s annual consumer fire safety survey – also released for FPW – showed that 1 out of 3 Americans (32%) do not have a fire escape plan for their home. Of those who have a fire escape plan, 21% say they have never reviewed or practiced it. Respondents who do not have a fire escape plan most commonly say it's because they've simply never thought about it (51%).
“Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in home fires,” Kerber continued. “Smoke from a home fire is thick and black, incredibly hot and filled with toxic chemicals. It moves extremely fast. Smoke from a fire in a living room can fill a one-story home or apartment and everywhere that isn’t blocked by a closed door in a matter of minutes.”
Having working smoke alarms is vital. Smoke alarms give the earliest warning possible that there is a fire, so people can get out of their home quickly and safely. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement.
Learn more at closeyourdoor.org.