Growing Fire Safety Campaign Adds Content of Educational Materials, Resources for Adults

March 8, 2005

The Home Safety Council has received a second federal grant to continue its home fire safety campaign being implemented nationally with ProLiteracy Worldwide and Oklahoma State University’s Fire Protection Publications to help reach adults with low literacy skills.

With a one-third match of more than $270,000 from the Home
Safety Council, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded $631,698 to the project. An initial grant of $629,902 awarded in 2003 formally established the Fire Safety Literacy Project and provided the foundation for the program.

The Fire Safety Literacy Project (FSLP) was created to reach the high-risk population of some 90 million adults in the U.S. who have limited reading ability. Many of these adults are reportedly unable to read critical home safety information designed to help reduce death and injury from fire in the home.

The first phase of the project focused on the development of easy-to-read and easy-to learn fire safety materials specifically designed for adults enrolled in literacy programs. The project was field-tested in seven pilot sites.

In addition, pilot test participants from fire departments and literacy programs received training in the use of the materials and in partnership-building at the National Fire Academy in September 2004.

A subsequent formative evaluation of the materials showed effectiveness in reaching the target audience with the messages and a high degree of satisfaction from those implementing the Project.

“The Project joins two strong community forces — fire service and
literacy providers — who share a parallel interest in enhancing the lives of high-risk communities,” said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “The first phase of the Project clearly indicated an interest among adult literacy students to learn and understand fire safety skills, so we’re thrilled that the second grant will allow us to enhance the materials, broaden the curriculum, and offer an even more effective program nationwide.”

The focus of the second project grant will continue to be the collaboration between local literacy providers and fire safety educators to offer the fire safety materials and instruction developed under the first grant.

In addition, the 2004 grant will allow more extensive evaluation of the current fire safety materials as well as the development of new home emergency preparedness materials that will help families be prepared for disasters caused by terrorism or other major natural and man-made events.

To assist in the efforts to reduce death and injury from home fires, Kidde will donate long-life smoke alarms for distribution through the Project. The alarms are being installed by the participating fire safety partners.

To encourage more communities to participate, the project will host a
series of workshops and presentations at national and regional venues.

The decision to incorporate disaster preparedness education into the project was based in part on the Home Safety Council’s State of Home Safety in America research, which reportedly found family readiness severely inadequate.

Just over half of U.S. households with children reported discussing emergency escape plans, and only 35 percent of households with persons age 70 or older have discussed emergency escape drills — making a large population of the United States vulnerable in the event of a national emergency.

Access and distribution of materials will continue to be offered at no
charge through the Home Safety Council’s Expert Network, a free online resource serving fire, life safety, and public health professionals in the U.S. ( ).

Project material components will include program orientation and tutorials, instructional materials specifically illustrated for adult learners, and a project video that outlines the program goals and components.

“We’re very proud of this partnership. It’s an innovative way to help
ensure that all adults have the opportunity to learn critical life safety
skills that will have a direct impact on the well-being of their families and others they care for,” said Linda Church, ProLiteracy associate director of special projects.

The Fire Safety Literacy Project is funded through a 2004 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

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