Volume 4 Number 39
September 28, 2007

CFO SINK URGES FLORIDIANS TO FOCUS ON SAFETY DURING FIRE PREVENTION WEEK, OCTOBER 7-13

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, is urging Floridians to take steps to protect themselves and their families from fire and to learn more about fire safety during Fire Prevention Week, which begins Sunday, October 7, and continues through October 13.
 

The Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire Prevention, will host a variety of activities throughout the week to draw attention to Fire Prevention Week, which the Governor and Cabinet designated Tuesday following a resolution presented by CFO Sink. A schedule of activities and the resolution are available at www.MyFloridaCFO.com. As part of the week’s activities, the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service will be held on Friday, October 12, at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala to commemorate 137 firefighters who  have died
over the years in the line of duty in Florida.

In presenting the Fire Prevention Week resolution, CFO Sink commended the fire and rescue services for having no line-of-duty firefighter deaths reported last year. But she lamented the deaths of 183 Floridians and injuries to more than 1,600, including 832 firefighters, in fire-related incidents – the majority occurring in homes. CFO Sink said she is concerned that of the more than 24,700 Florida structures involved in fires last year, fewer than 40 percent had smoke detectors, and just over half of those were working.

“Few Floridians would think about going without insurance, yet too many do not make sure they have the protection of a smoke alarm,”
said CFO Sink . “The cost of a smoke alarm is minimal, but the loss of a life is immeasurable.”

She said beyond having working smoke alarms, practicing a fire escape plan is important to make sure your family knows what to do in the event of a fire.

The leading cause of home fires in Florida last year was cooking, followed by arson, appliances and heaters, open flames from items such as candles, and smoking. While most fires occur in the kitchen, more lethal fires occurred in the bedroom. Fires in Florida last year caused more than $380 million in damage to Florida homes and property.

CFO Sink suggests Floridians follow these fire safety tips:

• Install smoke detectors on every floor and in hallways leading to bedrooms.
• Change smoke alarm batteries semi-annually, easily remembered if done when changing the clocks for daylight savings time in the spring and fall months. Test alarms regularly.
• Plan escape routes from every room and floor to an outdoor meeting place. Be sure everyone in the family knows and practices them. If necessary, install and learn to use slides or a rope ladder.
• Be sure children know their address.
• Make sure your house numbers can be easily seen from the street.
• Make sure your babysitter knows the family's fire safety rules, escape routes and meeting place.
• If you smoke, do not smoke in bed and never walk away from a lighted cigarette.
• Do not smoke if you are taking medication that makes you drowsy.
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture and curtains.
• Turn off space heaters before you leave the house or go to bed.
• Store paints, fuels and all ignitable liquids in a cool, locked metal cabinet. Greasy rags should be stored in a self-closing metal container. DO NOT store chemicals together that are not compatible such as pool chemicals, oils, gasoline and cleaning products. If you're not sure, call your local fire department.
• Do not use frayed electrical cords and do not overload outlets or extension cords.
• Keep ovens, broiling pans and kitchen exhaust fans clean.
• Never leave a stove unattended while it is on.
• If a fuse or circuit breaker should blow or keeps tripping, find out why and correct the problem. Always use the correct size fuse. Call an electrician.
• If a fire occurs, don't panic -- do your best to stay calm.
• Follow your escape plan.
• Leave the building and don't go back in for any reason.
• If smoke is present, drop to the floor and crawl to the nearest exit.
• Never use water to put out an electrical fire. This can cause a serious shock hazard.
• Feel the door before you exit through it. If the door is hot, leave by another exit.

In addition to providing public education on fire safety, the Bureau of Fire Prevention annually inspects more than 16,000 public and private buildings including public schools, university facilities and adult living facilities and enforces regulations regarding the handling of explosives materials, boiler safety and fire system installation contractors to ensure public safety.

For more tips and information on fire safety, click on http://www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm/FireSafetyIndex.htm.

R E S O L U T I O N

WHEREAS, last year in Florida, 183 citizens died as a result of fire-related incidents and more than 1,600 citizens, including 832 firefighters, were injured in fire-related incidents, causing more than $380 million in damage to Florida homes and property; and

WHEREAS, while assisting in the investigation of 3,978 fire incidents last year, the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that nearly half of those that involved fatalities were preventable and statistics show that of those fires involving structures, only 38 percent had smoke detectors and only 57 percent of those were working; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry, is committed to protecting and preserving Florida’s forests and woodlands, forestry officials report that approximately 13 percent of all Florida wildfires last year were intentionally set, making arson and escaped debris burning the two main causes of wildfires in Florida; and

WHEREAS, in response to these fires, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services implements numerous education programs to reduce threats to life and property, forests, and other related at-risk wildland resources, while promoting natural resource management through the use of prescribed fire; and

WHEREAS, the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire Prevention, annually inspects more than 16,000 public and private buildings including public schools, university facilities and adult living facilities and enforces regulations regarding the handling of explosives materials, boiler safety and fire system installation contractors to ensure public safety; and

WHEREAS, exposure to smoke and poisonous gas is the leading cause of fire-related deaths and can kill long before flames erupt; and

WHEREAS, innovative enforcement operations include participation for the third consecutive year in “Operation Spotcheck,” an interagency effort with the Department of Legal Affairs focused on fire safety deficiencies in board and care occupancies called home by many of Florida’s seniors; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s third-grade public school educators have been provided with posters, bookmarks, growth charts and an interactive web site to teach students about fire safety and encourage families to think about safety planning at home; and

WHEREAS, ongoing programs within the State Fire Marshal’s Office aim to educate Florida college and university students about fire safety during their first years away from home; and

WHEREAS, the Division of State Fire Marshal, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and the Florida Fire & Emergency Services Foundation have teamed up to provide and install thousands of smoke detectors in at-risk Florida homes, and the Bureau of Fire Prevention is actively involved with Fire Team USA and its residential sprinkler initiatives; and

WHEREAS, working smoke detectors in homes, businesses and schools not only give early warning of fire but also allow time to escape, cutting the risk of fire death by more than 50 percent; and

WHEREAS, the Bureau of Fire Prevention is a partner with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Fire Academy in its Prevention Advocacy Resource and Data Exchange (PARADE) program, sharing resources and networking fire prevention concerns on a nationwide platform.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida do hereby proclaim the week of October 7-13, 2007, as

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

in the State of Florida and remind citizens to reflect on the tragic loss of life resulting from preventable fires and commemorate the great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless, destroying more than 17,400 buildings.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida will honor and remember in a special memorial service on October 12, 2007, those brave men and women who have lost their lives in the performance of their duties protecting all citizens.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida do hereby pay special tribute to all fire safety professionals in Florida and extend thanks and appreciation to them for their fire safety efforts and urge all Floridians to participate in this year’s National Fire Protection Association campaign titled, “Practice Your Escape Plan!”

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida have hereunto subscribed their names and have caused the Official Seal of the State of Florida to be hereunto affixed in the City of Tallahassee on this 2nd day of October, 2007.