Four out of Five Americans Wrong: Fire Deaths More Common at Home

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New survey results show that four out five Americans feel safer from fires at home than in a public building, despite the fact that home fires outnumber all other building fires by over three to one and that most fire deaths and injuries occur in the home. As part of Engineering Week, February 17-23, 2008, SFPE hopes to draw attention to fire safety and the role of fire protection engineers by sponsoring an award for best fire protection engineering at the 2008 National Engineers Week Future City Competition.

It's disheartening to see that public perception is not changing

A nationwide fire safety survey conducted by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) reveals that 79 percent of Americans feel safer from fires at home than in a public building, with an additional nine percent feeling equally safe in both locations.

These results are inconsistent with government statistics that show that home fires outnumber all other building fires by over three to one. At the same time, most fire deaths and injuries occur in the home.

Public buildings are subject to tough fire safety regulations and inspections, whereas most homes are not.

"Most public buildings and commercial office buildings are much better protected than homes," says SFPE's Engineering Program Manager, Chris Jelenewicz. "This is because fire protection engineers implement fire-safety strategies and technologies into building the design and construction of commercial buildings."

Fire protection engineers are responsible for designing ways to protect people from fire. They use the latest technologies to design systems that control fires, alert people to danger and provide means for escape. Fire protection engineers also conduct fire safety research on consumer products and construction materials and investigate fires to discover why protective measures failed, and how those measures could have been designed more effectively.

Similar results were found in a 2005 survey conducted by SFPE, where 87 percent of Americans believed they were safer from fires at home than in a public building.

"It's disheartening to see that public perception is not changing," says Jelenewicz. In spite of this, SFPE is working hard to increase the awareness of the importance of home fire prevention. Recently, SFPE partnered with Discovery Education to create and release new high school chemistry lessons that teach students about the science of fire-- a project that was funded by the Department of Homeland Security. As a result of this project, every high school student in the United States will have the opportunity to better understand the dangers of home fires."

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

As part of Engineering Week, February 17-23, 2008, SFPE hopes to draw attention to fire safety and the role of fire protection engineers. They will be sponsoring an award for best fire protection engineering at the 2008 National Engineers Week Future City Competition. Future City is a national competition that introduces seventh- and eight-grade students to the exciting world of engineering.
The survey, commissioned Society of Fire Protection Engineers and conducted in January 2008 by Synovate, polled more than 1,000 American adults. The findings have a margin of error of plus (+) or minus (-) four percent.

What is a fire protection engineer?
A fire protection engineer applies science and engineering principles to protect people, homes, workplaces, the economy and the environment from the devastating effects of fires. Fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start and grow, and how fires affect people and property. They use the latest technologies to design systems to control fires, alert people to danger, and provide means for escape. Fire protection engineers also work closely with other professionals, including engineers of other disciplines, architects, state and local building officials, and local fire departments to build fire safe communities. The job market for fire protection engineers has remained strong for years due to the disparity between the large number of job openings and relatively small pool of potential employees. (http://www.sfpe.org/profession.aspx)

About Society of Fire Protection Engineers
Organized in 1950, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers is the professional society for engineers involved in the field of fire protection engineering. The purposes of SFPE are to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering, maintain a high ethical standing among its members and foster fire protection engineering education. SFPE's worldwide members include engineers in private practice, in industry and in local, regional and national government. Chapters are located in Canada, China, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

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