September was Firefighter Appreciation Month in California, October 2nd & 3rd was National Fallen Fire Fighters memorial, and this month is National Fire Prevention Month. We owe much to the women and men who have dedicated their lives to our safety. Due to the constant behind the scenes work of fire professionals, the safety of our communities has greatly improved from the early days when my great grandfather worked as a “Call Man” for the Portland Maine Fire Department.
He worked with the first horse drawn steam pump fire engines. Many dedicated fire professionals have worked to reduce the incidence of structure fires through the improvement of the building codes, and in promoting regulations regarding the flammability of the furnishings and finishes in our homes and businesses. 1
Even as late as 2016, the leading cause of house fires deaths was smoking. The reduction in smoking rates, introduction of fire safe cigarettes, and regulation of flammability of upholstery fabrics and foams have led to significantly increased safety. 2 Despite the great reduction in civilian and firefighter deaths due to these improvements, firefighting is still one of the most dangerous professions.
The graph below shows that firefighter deaths and injury rates have greatly reduced between 1977 and 2019 (+/-50% reduction)3 remained one of the highest among workers in the United States in these 2016 figures.3 4 5 We hope you will join us in promoting continuous improvements in building codes and fire training to improve the safety of our community and our firefighters.