On Christmas Day 2011, firefighters in Stamford, Conn., made the painful decision to pull back during a battle to extinguish a house fire, knowing full well people still were trapped inside. Conditions were too dangerous for firefighters to proceed, and rescue efforts were futile. The tragedy left even the most hardened crew members devastated.
Five members of one family died: 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old Lily Badger and their grandparents, Pauline and Lomer Johnson.
The cards were stacked against firefighters from the beginning because of how far the fire had spread before crews were notified, according to Stamford Deputy Fire Chief William Smith III. Fire officials determined
the blaze was caused by embers from a fireplace that had been taken to a mudroom or trash enclosure on the first floor. The ashes still were hot, according to Chief Fire Marshal Barry Callahan.
Smoke Alarms Dramatically Reduce Fatalities
Less than one month after the fatal fire in Stamford, Deputy Chief Smith and fellow firefighters embarked on a mission with First Alert to install smoke detectors in every home.
Injury Facts® 2015, a statistical report on unintentional injuries and deaths created by the National Safety Council, 2,200 deaths were caused by burns and injuries in destructive fires in 2013. Working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a house fire in half.
October is Fire Prevention Month
In Stamford, the Badger children and their grandparents reportedly were sleeping on the second floor when fire engulfed their home.
"Hear the Beep where you Sleep" is the National Fire Protection Association slogan during
Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4-10, 2015. The NFPA wants to get a message to homeowners: Make sure smoke alarms are in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. NFPA research tells us roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep.
For Your Protection
NSC provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms; change the batteries at least once a year in these devices
- Plan – and practice – an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home; be prepared to assist young children, family members with special needs and pets
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route; learn two ways out of every room
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else
What You Can Do to Keep Little Ones Safe
U.S. Fire Administration offers these tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:
- Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot; space heaters and stove-tops can cause serious burns
- Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
- Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you
Remember, it's not only fire that can cause severe burns. Protect children from excessive sun exposure, and keep them away from hot water, chemicals, electricity and coin lithium batteries. (Find more on the risks of
ingesting lithium batteries here.)
How Severe is the Burn?
The Centers for Disease Control reports
there are three types of burns:
- First-degree only affects the top layer of skin
- Second-degree destroys top layer of skin and partially damages the second layer
- Third-degree burns affect the inner-most layer of skin
If you don't know how severe a burn is, call 911 or seek medical treatment. Click here for more
information on first-aid for burns.
Resources for Public Educators
NFPA offers information and tools to help public educators
teach all audiences about important fire and life safey issues.