RISMEDIA, Oct. 8, 2007-Most Americans believe they have at least 10 minutes to get out of their homes during a fire. This is a deadly mistake. Unfortunately, a person only has three minutes or less to escape to safety before smoke or flames can become fatal (Source: National Fire Protection Association). To emphasize the importance of residential fire safety, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will highlight the theme, “Practice Your Escape Plan,” during its annual observance of Fire Prevention Week (October 7-13, 2007).
As part of the national campaign, PEARL Protected®, creators of the patented Permanent Escape And Rescue Ladder for two- and three-story homes, will educate homeowners and builders about fire safety and escape planning by providing a variety of resources and educational tools for its partners. Additionally, the company will host a series of Great American Fire Drill events in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Sacramento to give groups of children the opportunity to learn about fire escape planning in an actual home environment.
“While many people recognize that home fire safety is important, most underestimate the threat residential fire poses to the average American household. Planning and practicing fire escape options is a matter of life and death for every homeowner,” said PEARL Protected CEO David Duley.
Importance of Escape
Not only does the NFPA recommend that families create a home fire escape plan and practice it twice per year, they also encourage people to know two ways out of every room – especially upstairs rooms where it can be more difficult to get to safety in the event of an emergency.
According to former City of Atlanta Fire Chief Winston L. Minor, an adequate home fire safety plan means addressing four critical components: prevention, detection, suppression and escape.
“Common fire safety devices like smoke alarms are required by building code in most American homes. However, most cities fail to implement requirements that give the same attention to escape – which is the most critical component of fire safety. Hopefully, more city governments will adopt code changes that mandate a permanent means of escape to ensure that homeowners have a fast, reliable way to get out of their homes in a fire or other home emergency. As a result, precious lives will be saved.”
In November 2006, the City of East Point, a suburb of Atlanta, became the first U.S. city to pass legislation that requires permanent emergency escape ladders be installed in the upstairs bedrooms of all new single- and multi-family dwellings. This ordinance is designed to strictly enforce the NFPA’s Life Safety Code which recommends that every room has two means of egress, or escape.
Escaping on Campus
While campus fires have always demonstrated a need for alternative means of escape, the Virginia Tech tragedy provided a strong case for permanent escape devices in on-campus settings. During the shootings, several students were forced to jump from upper-story classroom windows, resulting in substantial injuries. Other students remained in harm’s way because they were too afraid to jump. In these instances, a permanent escape ladder would have provided a safe, organized and readily-available means of escape.
An NFPA report shows there were 3,300 college housing fires in 2005, up from 1,800 in 1998. The report also concludes that from 2002 to 2005, there were 39 deaths and nearly 400 injuries from fires in dormitories, barracks, and fraternity and sorority housing.
“Virginia Tech has made campuses think harder about how to protect students. Whether it’s gun violence or more common threats, like rape, assault or a fire, a permanent escape ladder gives students a safe option when primary exits are blocked,” said Duley, whose company is in talks with several major universities to install permanent ladders in dorms and campus buildings.
Great American Fire Drill
PEARL Protected has already made significant strides with the installation of PEARL ladders in more than 100 homebuilders’ communities nationwide. Builders like Johnny Walker Jr. Construction in Chattanooga and KB Home of Northern California in Sacramento have partnered with PEARL Protected to host Great American Fire Drill events in their model homes. The events, which will occur in each city during Fire Prevention Week, will educate kids about home fire safety while providing an opportunity for them to actually practice an escape plan. Each child will be given interactive materials like coloring books and stickers as a reminder to lead their own family’s efforts to create a residential fire escape plan.
The company also invites children of all ages to submit a copy of their home fire escape plan as part of the Escape to Safety coloring contest. Contestants can download instructions and a fire escape plan template through the PEARL Protected Web site.
The NFPA has observed Fire Prevention Week since 1922, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record (Source: National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center). It was established to commemorate the tragic Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people and burned more than 2,000 acres.
For more information and education tools for this year’s campaign, visit www.nfpa.org.