SFPE: Most Americans Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety

A nationwide survey conducted by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers reveals that 79 percent of Americans feel safer from fires at home than in a public building, and an additional nine percent feel equally safe in both locations. The reality, though, is that the public places are much safer because they are subject to tough fire safety regulations and inspections, whereas most homes are not. In fact, home fires outnumber all other building fires by more than three to one, and most fire deaths and injuries occur in the home.

The results of the survey, commissioned by SFPE and conducted in January by Synovate in a poll of more than 1,000 American adults, were similar to those of the society's 2005 survey on the same subject. Then, 87 percent of those surveyed said they believed they were safer from fires at home than in a public building.

"It's disheartening to see that public perception is not changing," said Chris Jelenewicz, SFPE's engineering program manager. "In spite of this, SFPE is working hard to increase the awareness of the importance of home fire prevention." To accomplish this, the society recently partnered with Discovery Education to create and release new high school chemistry lessons that teach students about the science of fire--a project funded by the Department of Homeland Security--and, as part of Engineering Week, Feb. 17-23, SFPE is sponsoring an award for best fire protection engineering to draw attention to fire safety and the role of fire protection engineers.

SFPE says that along with the false sense of security at home, its survey also found that 44 percent of Americans think about the dangers of fire once or twice a year--or less.

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