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The Home Safety Council and Johns Hopkins Surveyed Fire Chiefs to Identify Fire and Life Safety Public Education Practices and Barriers

A new survey commissioned by the Home Safety Council and conducted by Johns Hopkins reveals that only a small percentage (12%) of U.S. fire departments have the benefit of assigning personnel exclusively to public education roles. Most of the public safety education outreach is carried out by personnel who are juggling multiple duties. While 86 percent of U.S. fire departments report that they perform some type of fire and life safety education outreach, most fire chiefs say they want to do more.

The Home Safety Council partnered with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to conduct this first-ever national fire and life safety education survey. The survey benchmarks the fire and life safety educational services provided by the U.S. fire service, and assesses the current state of educational programming, identifying needs for training and additional resources.

Survey Findings

The survey findings help give a picture of the current state of Fire and Life Safety Education (FLSE) in the U.S. fire service, and include:

  • 86% of fire departments conduct some type of FLSE, most frequently using uniformed personnel with multiple responsibilities (56%). Staff assigned exclusively to FLSE activities is rare (12%).
  • 85% of fire departments spend less than 10 hours on FLSE per week.
  • Elementary school presentations (80%), fire safety week or month events (68%), older adult presentations (40%) and health fairs (40%) were the most frequently reported types of FLSE activities.
  • The focus of FLSE activities was most commonly reported as fire prevention (82%), fire escape planning (73%), smoke alarms (71%), and fire extinguishers (53%) while home fire sprinkler systems (5%), public health emergencies (11%) and disaster preparedness (24%) were reported less frequently.
  • Nationally, 68% of fire departments distribute or install injury prevention products, most commonly household smoke alarms (51%). Fire escape ladders (2%), bicycle helmets (8%), fire extinguishers (10%), smoke alarms for people with hearing difficulty (8%) and carbon monoxide detectors (14%) are less commonly distributed or installed.

Survey Methodology

A 35-item survey was mailed to a sample of 7,408 U.S. fire departments, randomly selected from the National Public Safety Information Bureau's 2006 Directory of Fire Chiefs and EMS Administrators. From the total population of 21,745 fire departments, the random sample was stratified by size of population served (<10,000, >10,000), region of the country (NE, MW, SE, S, W), and department type (volunteer, career, combination).

About the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy is dedicated to high quality research that informs the establishment of programs and policies aimed at controlling the incidence, severity and consequences of injuries; the application of this research through professional practice; and the integration of research and practice with the education of future research scientists and practitioners in injury control.

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