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Are Current Fire Prevention and Education Models Failing Us?

Fire prevention is not a rocket science. The challenge the fire service faces is its implementation.

Fire prevention implementation failure, and the lack of sustainable solutions, could be a leading cause of the increased number of deadly fires we are seeing worldwide. Despite all knowledge we have in the fire service,  there are only a few countries in the world where residential sprinklers are mandatory. And there are just a few countries in the world where kids are systematically and permanently educated about fire prevention. Collectively and including members of the community (not just the fire service members) we must do better at saving lives and reducing alarming statistics and even poverty as a result of far too many fires ongoing.

The Fire Problem. Perhaps sustainable solutions are within reach.

This past year has proven difficult from fire safety perspectives. We were faced with devastating and fatal fires such as Grenfell Tower fire in London (UK), with deaths of 79 residents, December 29th a residential building fire in the Bronx (USA) with 12 casualties, and the recent Liverpool car park fire (UK) which destroyed about 1,400 cars. Although the consequences of these fires are alarming, it is even more questionable of how this happen in the 21st century when we know almost everything about fire prevention, fire protection, and fire risks. Though is it entirely true that we know it all? Maybe there is more to learn. Perhaps sustainable solutions are within reach if only more attention was paid to the critical need for fire and life safety education.

Criminal charges possible in Grenfell Tower fire in London

We all will have to find a systematic and sustainable approach.

Notably, risk factors associated with unintentional house fire incidents, injuries, and deaths in high-income countries have increased in the past five years. Recently we have seen an increased number of fires in the UK, U.S., and some European countries. New materials, rapid fire spread, new dynamic lifestyles, community/fire brigade budget cuts and poverty increase fire fatality risk. It seems that existing fire prevention models have failed and that fire safety is more and more a social problem.

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For fire dynamics a great deal of research has been conducted concerning the predictors of fire development and material burning. Though there is an unusual shortcoming concerning sustainable fire prevention measures. With fire prevention, we are trying to prevent and stop fires from happening. Fire prevention is a proactive method of reducing preventable fires and the damage caused by them.

Fire prevention has four important goals:

  1. The first goal is Life Safety, which is to prevent injury and loss of life. Human life and health always take top priority in an emergency.
  2. The second goal of fire prevention is to Prevent Property Damage and negative impact on the environment.
  3. The third goal of fire prevention is Protection of Operations. By preventing fires and limiting damage, we can assure that work operations will continue without interruption.
  4. The fourth and the final goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires and be educated about surviving them. It is a constant push to promote and implement active and passive protection measures. It has been said that fire department spend only 1% to 4% of its operating budget on public education.

Fire prevention is not a rocket science. The hardest part is its implementation. In fact, fire prevention implementation failure and the lack of sustainable solutions can be the cause of an increased number of fires worldwide.

Fire prevention implementation is the tough part of an ongoing fire risk reduction process. It is also very difficult to collect data and measure fire prevention effects. Unfortunately, fire prevention can be very costly and time consuming, although that can be solved with public/private partnerships and social entrepreneurship.

Ales Jug, PhD avatar
As a fire prevention focused social entrepreneur and scholar I am positive that with social entrepreneurship it is possible to change safety awareness through social business models, and proven prevention campaigns that motivate people to change their safety attitude. Without this, poor safety increases risks and consequently vulnerability to falling below the poverty level. My capability: fire prevention, fire risk assessment, social entrepreneurship, social business, community resilience, long distance running and motorcycle riding.

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