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International Study Finds New Best Practices to Reduce Fire Casualties
Date:10/8/2009

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and System Planning Corporation's TriData division, which specializes in public safety research and consulting, recently completed a three-year study of best fire prevention practices in 10 nations.

The study found many practices that have been associated with dramatic reductions in fire deaths and injuries in these nations. These best practices could help reduce fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. at little or no additional cost, in part by increasing the firefighter's role in prevention efforts.

The research, conducted by staff from TriData and the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, was sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and the CDC.

The research found that there has been a dramatic shift in fire service prevention practices in many nations over the past decade. The role of line firefighters has been altered to incorporate more prevention activities, especially home visits in high-risk areas. As part of their integrated risk management efforts, many communities, such Merseyside and West Midlands in England, and Toronto, Ottawa, and Longueil in Canada, include fire service home visits to 50%-100% of all residences over a five year period, starting with the highest risk areas.

The home visits typically check on the existence and operability of smoke alarms, install one if needed, and give one-on-one safety messages to household members. This has led to 40%-50% drops in residential fire deaths in many communities.

Another major trend is increased partnerships between fire services and municipal agencies that deliver home services to citizens. Personnel from social service agencies, with some training from the fire service, can enhance prevention efforts during their routine visits and then refer specific high-risk households to their local fire department for follow-up.

"Why not use the best ideas proven in other nations to reduce fire casualties and loss in the United States?" asks TriData president Philip Schaenman, who served as a principal researcher both for this study and other international fire studies over the past three decades.

"Much of what we found can be adapted to the United States. It may take changing the fire service culture a little bit in some places to incorporate new practices, as it has in other nations, but some of these practices are already in use here, though not on the scale as in cities abroad," Schaenman said.

"We can save many lives in the United States over the next five years if we adopt the best practices proven in other nations," Schaenman added. "We would recommend that major fire organizations consider promoting the implementation of best practices because they can save citizens' lives and help reduce fire service casualties."

TriData conducted the study in three parts in 2007-2009. Part I reviewed best practices in Europe (England, Scotland, Sweden, and Norway). Part II looked at innovations in the Asia/Pacific region (Australia, New Zealand, and Japan). Part III studied North America (Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico). This study follows up previous research on international concepts in fire protection undertaken by TriData in 1982-1993.

The reports can be downloaded free of charge from System Planning Corporation's website at: www.sysplan.com/tridata/publications/international.

SOURCE System Planning Corporation


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SOURCE System Planning Corporation
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