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FEMA Recognizes National Fire Prevention Week 2010, Urges Families To Prepare For Fire, Other Emergencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, to help kickoff National Fire Prevention Week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges everyone to take a few simple steps to protect yourself and your family from fires and other emergencies.  Observed each October, National Fire Prevention Week, commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by promoting fire safety.  This year's theme is "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With." 

"Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere," said FEMA Administrator, and former volunteer firefighter Craig Fugate.  "While firefighters and first responders are critical in fighting and responding to fires, our best tool for preventing fires is an educated public.  By taking a few simple steps now to get prepared, like making sure smoke alarms are working properly and placed throughout your home, you can keep your family safe."

According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2009, fires killed more Americans than all other natural disasters combined.  Eighty-six percent of civilian fire-related deaths happened in homes.  Each year, nearly 3,000 people die in residential fires.

FEMA, through its United States Fire Administration (USFA), along with the National Fire Protection Association, urge you to take the steps necessary to update and maintain your smoke alarm protection with these tips:

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home (including the basement), outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom.  Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires while a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.  For the best protection, install one of each type of alarm, or use a combination ionization/photoelectric alarms.
  • The interconnection of smoke alarms is highly recommended; so when one alarm sounds, they all do.  A licensed electrician can install either hard-wired or multiple-station alarms but the new wireless variety smoke alarm systems can be installed by the homeowner.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.  Replace all smoke alarms, even alarms that use 10-year batteries or hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or have mild to severe hearing loss.  These alarms may use strobe lights activated by the alarm sound but require additional vibration equipment, others make a low-pitched sound activated by the noise from a traditional smoke alarm.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate marked the official start of National Fire Prevention Week yesterday by speaking to the families and friends of firefighters lost in the line of duty during 2009 at the 29th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.  This year, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and FEMA's USFA recognized the addition of 105 firefighters' names to the Memorial wall in Emmitsburg, Md.

Learn more about National Fire Prevention Week and read the special information on FEMA's USFA website, or go to www.firesafety.gov.

Learn more about the National Fallen Firefighter's Foundation and Memorial.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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