As the media covers the tragic fire this week in Philadelphia that claimed the lives of 13 people including seven children, NFPA is providing key resources for reporters. All can be accessed at www.nfpa.org/pressroom or at the individual links below. For media interviews, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s heartbreaking incident is tied for the fifth most deadly home fire in the United States since 1980, according to NFPA data on catastrophic multiple-death fires.
According to the most recent NFPA Smoke Alarms in the US Home Fires report, almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in properties with no smoke alarms (41%) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16%). When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is typically because of disconnected or non-working power sources, such as batteries being removed from alarms or batteries that are no longer working; dead batteries caused 25% of smoke alarm failures.
The NFPA Fire Safety in the US report that was released last year shows that the biggest single factor contributing to fire-safety progress in recent decades has been the use of smoke alarms, as mandated by fire and building codes, as well as continued public education about their significance. That same report shows that the largest share of reported structure fires and most of the civilian fire deaths and injuries today consistently occur in homes, where people tend to feel safest.
Research also states that the use of home fire sprinklers significantly reduces deaths, injuries, and property loss in fire. All new homes should be built with fire sprinklers.
Working smoke alarms, which reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by more than half (55%) are a key element of fire safety. NFPA provides additional guidance on this safety tip sheet.
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom. They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- Change the batteries when they begin to chirp, signalling that they are running low. If the alarm continues to chirp after the batteries are replaced, it likely means the alarm is no longer working properly and needs to be replaced with a new alarm.
- Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multi-sensing, which may include smoke and carbon-monoxide detection in one unit.
- Today’s smoke alarms are more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions and are better designed to avoid false alarms.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10ft (3m) from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
For more information or to view NFPA codes and standards for free, visit www.nfpa.org