Protecting the most vulnerable

New report supports the need for additional efforts to promote fire and life safety education in schools

We've known for a long time that fires all too often claim the most vulnerable among us — especially the very young and very old.

This report lends additional evidence to the reality that we still have a severe fire problem in the United States, despite what many in our communities believe about the risk of fire deaths, fire-related injuries, and property loss.

I have to admit that even I'm surprised about the fact that fire and burns were the third-leading cause of accidental deaths for young children in 2007.

While my own children are no longer in the under-5 age group, it is not hard to understand their inability to escape from a fire unaided — regardless of whether or not they hear an activated smoke alarm.

This report certainly supports the need for additional efforts to promote fire and life safety education in schools, install residential fire sprinklers, and provide appropriate firefighting resources to perform immediate search-and-rescue in occupied dwellings.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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