The holidays are over, which means the chances of starting a house fire via a deep-fried turkey or a knocked-over Christmas tree are considerably lower than they were in November and December. The year 2013 saw the lowest number of reported fires since the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) began recording them in 1977, but there’s still work to be done when it comes to fire prevention.

All across the country, fire departments and other organizations are teaming up to spread awareness and teach basic fire protection and safety knowledge.

  • In 2012, the State Fire Marshal’s Office in Tennessee launched its “Get Alarmed Tennessee” program, which was funded in part by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant went toward the purchase of 20,000 smoke alarms which were distributed to fire departments across the state. According to a recent report, a smoke alarm installed through the program was credited with saving the lives of two people in an Arlington, Tennessee house fire in January of this year. Local and state officials continue to stress the importance of home fire prevention, and to date, more than 68,000 10-year battery smoke detectors have been distributed across the state.
  • Last year, the NFPA and representatives from the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition teamed up to install sprinkler systems in two Habitat for Humanity homes in Hanover, Massachusetts. The NFPA documented the process and included its results and testimonials in the NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a study comparing the cost of current home sprinkler systems against a 2008 study. According to its findings, the average cost per sprinklered square foot in 2013 was $1.35, down from $1.61 in 2008.
  • In Roanoke, Virginia, The American Red Cross is collaborating with the local fire and police departments in January to canvass the city and share fire prevention tips. According to local reports, officials and volunteers will go door-to-door, talking with residents and distributing smoke alarm batteries and door hangers with safety information.
  • The Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Battalion Chief in Alabama recently released a list of fire prevention tips for the colder months, with an emphasis on space heaters (according to NFPA, fires caused by heating equipment accounted for about 14% of all reported home fires in 2011). These tips include: keep anything flammable at least three feet away from space heaters; don’t allow space heaters to run overnight; have your heating appliances cleaned and maintained; and turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen while cooking.
  • Every year, the city of Pharr, Texas, hosts a public safety festival. It features food, games, kiddie rides, and entertainment, with fire prevention and safety tips sprinkled in.

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers has more than 4,500 members and more than 60 regional chapters. Keep an eye on the website of the chapter closest to you and check out local public awareness and outreach programs.

What is your local community doing to spread fire prevention awareness?