By Terry Orr
“Fire! Fire! Fire! Class Alpha Fire in compartment 01-….” Hearing this announcement over the ships 1-MC (general announcement system) gets all hands immediate attention. The other related announcement starts with “this is a drill, this is a drill…Fire….” This is equally important as practice makes perfect (or nearly) and hones your firefighting skills. For those who spend the days on land – they seldom if ever practice basic firefighting skills, understand the different types of fires, practice emergency exits, or know to prevent most fires. So set us start by taking a short fire prevention quiz.
Fast Facts About Fire
(From National Fire Protection Association)
- One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.
- In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
- According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
- Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practiced it.
- One-third of Americans households who made and estimate they thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
- Almost two-thirds (62%) of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
- In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 92% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 77% of the time.
- Cooking has been the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries since 1990. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires; Two-thirds of home cooking fires began with ignition of cooking materials, including food, cooking oil, fat, or grease.
- Cooking caused two of every five (42%) of reported home fires, roughly one of every seven (15% ) home fire deaths, and two of every five (37% ) home fire injuries, and 11% of direct property damage from home fires in 2010.
- Ranges accounted for the 58% of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
- Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.
- 90% of burns associated with cooking equipment resulted from contact with hot equipment or some other non-fire source.
- Heating equipment was the leading cause of reported home fires in the 1980s and has generally ranked second since them. It is the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Fires involving heating equipment peak in December, January and February, as do deaths from these fires.
- The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
- Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third (32%) of home heating fires and four out of five (79%) home heating deaths.
- Half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
- In 2010, smoking materials started and estimated 17,500 home structure fires, resulting in 540 deaths, 1,320 injuries and $535 million in direct property damage. Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Sleep was a factor in two of every five home smoking material fire deaths. Possible alcohol impairment was reported in one quarter of these deaths.
- In recent years, Canada and the United States have required that all cigarettes sold must be “fire safe,” that is have reduced ignition strength and less likely to start fires.
- Half (49%) of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment, water heater and range.
- In 2010, electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in an estimated 46,500 home structure fires resulting in 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage.
- On average, there are 35 home candle fires reported per day.
- More than one-third of these fires started in the bedroom.
- More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.
- In 2010, candles caused 3% of home fires, 4% of home fire deaths, 6% of home fire injuries and 5% of direct property damage from home fires.
Home Fire Sprinklers
- Automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 83%.
- Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
- Sprinklers are highly effective because they react so quickly in a fire. They reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people time to evacuate the home.
Be sure to download and print Sparky’s “Home Fire SafetyChecklist” and make sure your home is prepared.
Remember to be fire and safety aware everyday – if you see something that is a potential hazard – fix it then!
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