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The precautions that are taken to prevent or reduce the occurrence of fire, which results in death, injuries, or even destruction of property worth millions and are referred to as fire safety (Jerry 2008). They are aimed at alerting people in the structure in case of occurrence of uncontrolled fire. It alerts individuals, threatened by the fire incidence to evacuate the affected areas, or even to help in outing of the fire. Prevention helps to reduce chances of fire occurrence. Fire safety faces threats that are referred to as fire hazards, which include circumstances, which increase the probability of fire occurrence. These threats may also prevent from escape by the victims in the event if fire occurs. For instance, unseemly usage and maintenance of a gas stove creates a fire hazard. Other common fire hazards may include electrical systems that are overloaded, combustible storage areas with insufficient protection, fireplace chimneys not properly cleaned and combustibles near equipment that generates heat or sparks, personal ignition, such as matches amongst many others.

During construction of a building, fire safety may be included. Sometimes, they are implemented in buildings that are already standing. This involves educating the occupants on fire and life safety. They are taught how to prevent from the occurrence of such dangerous incidences and how to deal with the situation in case they caught unaware. Fire safety is found under the building safety. Before a construction of a building begins, building safeties are laid down for the security of the future occupants. Fire prevention officers are responsible for inspecting buildings for violation of fire code. They have also the responsibility to go to different learning institutions and educate students on fire safety topics.

Any fire safety policy has key elements, which include constructing a building according to rules provided by the local building code and maintaining the structure in agreement with the requirements of the fire code (Maclean, 2007). Examples of fire safety policies include introducing and maintaining firefighting equipments in easy to get to areas, prohibiting usage of flammable materials in certain locations in the building, using fire alarm systems for detection and warning of fire, maintaining high standards of training and awareness of the users of the building to avoid mistakes, maintaining proper fire exits and ensuring that spray fire proofing remains unscratched.

The United States has been committed in providing a fire-safe environment to it residents and, therefore, protecting their properties through an effectual fire prevention, protection and response programs. The aim of these programs is to help the citizens in working together to realize and maintain an environment with the reduced risks of fire hazards. The fire and safety policies outline how the United States aims to protect lives and property from destructions caused by fire arising from the use of materials or equipments, and from circumstances hazardous to life and property (Amernic, 2008).

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The fire and life safety was developed to provide guideline information on how to implement the requirements of the United States’ fire and life safety policy.  It also enhanced building-specific life safety and Emergency Management Plans as well as offering guidance on some common issues, which can become fire code violation if not appropriately addressed. This essay addresses four major areas, such as effects of fire, safety issues, fire and safety issues to elderly, and ways to educate and train people how to prevent the occurrence of fire incidences and how to handle fire case in the event they occur. It explores the above named areas in details and comes up with concrete ways to curb this catastrophic hazard that leads to loss of lives and destruction of properties worth millions of dollars. 

Effects of Fire

 Fire is essential and, at the same time, danger to human beings. It affects human being in diverse ways. Since in the past, fire has been a peculiar thing to human beings. They discovered that fire can be dangerous and figured out it could be used for heating, lighting, and cooking food. Nowadays, people have gain knowledge of more dangers of fire and more uses for the fire.

In addition, fire has been a dangerous thing, which causes burns and has capabilities to destroy houses, wildfire, and buildings. It causes many injuries and casualties if not used well. Over the past years, fire has caused the death of many people. This makes it the most perilous form of natural event in the United States of America. Researchers have proven that most fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than the burns. If exits are not properly placed, the smoke incapacitates so rapidly that it overcomes the victims’ bearing in mind that most of our homes today uses synthetic materials, which produces very dangerous substances if burnt (Vilar, 2001). As the fire grows inside the building, it consumes the available oxygen, thereby slowing the burning process. Unavailability of sufficient oxygen leads to incomplete combustion, which emits toxic gases into the environment.

In the United States of America, the majority of fire impacts occur in densely populated areas. These fire incidences have been proved that they mainly occur in most summers as compared to other seasons. Necessary complements to effective bush fire readiness and response in minimizing the risks of fire to people, their health, property, infrastructure and production systems need to be implemented. Better community awareness and understanding of how to prepare for and response to fire incidences are very important. Other necessary complements are better building design and maintenance, and good planning development.

Fire is among the ecological factors affecting plant life of the south eastern parts of the United States. In most parts of this region, fire seems to exert an influence in determining persistent type of vegetation as compared to the climate and soil. Frequent rate of fire has a great effect on the ecology of the United States’ pine ecosystems. The Fire Ecology Program has been conducting research to find out better understanding of the appropriate cause of this frequent fire (York, 2003).

The frequent occurrence of fire in the United States has contributed to changes in air quality. This is due to the emission of large quantities of smoke into the environment in a given area within a short period of time. Smoke comprises of small particulate of ash, partly consumed fuels, and invisible gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and small quantities of nitrogen oxides. These impurities change the quality of air. These toxic gases cause respiratory diseases when breathed in by the human beings. Existence of some gases in the air, such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide causes acidic rains. This reduces the life span of building and many other structures. It also causes skin diseases to humans.

Basically, though fire is vital for human daily activities, it has a lot of negative impacts if not used appropriately. It affects them either directly or indirectly through environmental changes, such as emission of toxic gases into the air. This makes it very crucial to come up with educative plans to teach people about fire and life safety in order to counter the high rate of occurrence of fire.

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Fire and Safety Issues

Fire safety and management play a vital role in the fight of fire occurrence. In case of a fire incidence, the fire must be attacked and controlled quickly to reduce the resulting damages. A fire can be very difficult to handle without the appropriate equipments and fire safety trained personnel’s. There is a number of particular areas that need to be considered during prevention of fire. These include identifying areas that fire can break out easily, possible size and influence of the fire, and the possible impacts of the fire. High risk areas within a building are large storage apartments, stores of flammable goods, plants rooms, kitchens, manufacturing places and under cover car parks.

In the United States, fire departments use many terms to describe fire education and prevention programs (Cote, 2008). These different programs have the same goals, but differ in size and approach they use. As seen earlier, fire can lead to massive loss of life and broad loss of property. A plan of response should be developed to deal with these unpredictable fire instances. This explains the reason why all the firefighting equipments should always be properly fixed and maintenance done regularly.

Some gadgets, such as smoke alarms, always double your chances of surviving a fire if properly maintained. This is made possible by ensuring that all the alarms are installed properly and in good conditions. It is advisable to install the smoke alarms in each room if one sleeps with bedroom doors are closed. The alarms need to be serviced on monthly bases and the batteries replaced annually. Some other smoke alarms, such as vibrating and flashing, should also be tested once per month to ensure that they are functioning as they should be.

Unsafe heating practices are also a major cause of fire incidences in the United States of America (NFPA, 2005). Heating equipments should be installed correctly and flammable materials, such as curtain’s or furniture’s, kept at least three feet from them. Heating equipments, for instance, a stove should never be used as a substitute for a space heater.

Unsafe cooking habits have also been attributed as another major factors leading to accidental fire resulting to loss of lives and destructions of property. By no means should one leave cooking food unattended if using a stove. Tight fitting clothes should be worn when cooking using an open flame. This is because a dangling sleeve can easily catch fire. When using a candle for lighting, it should be placed at a safe position far away from flammable materials.

In addition, unsafe smoking habits are another safety issues that should be looked at. Careless smoking is among the leading causes of fire in the United States. Smokers do not mind the placing they smoking, or even how they discard the ashes. For safety purposes, always ensure you are alert when smoking and never smoke while in bed. Before discarding ashes, soak them in water. Smoking material should not be left unattended.

Planning and practicing your home fire escape is very crucial. Escape routes should be updated and the occupants informed of the changes. This ensures that in case of a fire, they are aware of the possible routes to escape through. When preparing escape routes, consider different capabilities of the occupants. Make sure that each room has at least two ways to get out.

Fire and Safety Issues for Elderly People

In the United States, the elderly population is presently growing at a temperate rate. Those aged 65 years and above represent 12.5 percent of the total population. Unfortunately, elderly people are statically more at risk in their homes. They experience both physical and cognitive changes, which are associated with the aging process. This places them at high risk of being injured by a fire. Sensory impairments are among the common complications brought about by old age (Harwood, 1989). They experience diminished visual insight, hearing, and sense of smell. Presence of any of the above makes an individual more exposed to the dangers of fire and burns. For instance, inability to smell smoke due to respiratory problems increases the chances of suffocating from toxic fumes and smoke inhalation. The elderly tends to suffer from one or more of these deficiencies.

Old people exhibit some behaviors that place them at greater risk for having a fire. Most of them rely on alternative sources of heat to keep themselves warm. Some of these sources include space heaters and electric blackest. If a space heater is not maintained properly, it increases chances of starting a fire. Electric brackets too if washed repeatedly can comprise their wiring systems thus creating fire risks. In addition, they have a tendency of living alone hence, unlikely to receive prompt help in case of fire emergencies.

At old age, a quite large percent of people are under medication in the United States (Pollock, 1998). Individual may be taking several prescribed medication at the same time. Medications may cause drowsiness or impaired judgments when taken simultaneously. These effects decrease the possibility of detecting and escaping a fire and increase the likelihood of starting a fire accidentally. It is not wise for elderly people to live alone.

Almost a quarter of the old aged 65 years and above were claimed to drink alcohol beverage almost every day. The use of prescribed medicines along with alcohol reduces one’s cognitive and physical abilities among the older adults (Fahey and Miller, 1989). Specialists advise that alcohol should not be taken when one is under medications.

Population of the older adults living at or below the poverty line is roughly 20 percent in the United States (Fahey and Miller, 1989). Poverty increases fire risk as individuals lack income to equip their houses with fire protective measures. Where these equipments, such as smoke alarms, are available, they are unlikely to afford for maintenance. Due to poverty, most of them rely on dangerous source of heat, such as open flame or space heaters. These have a high probability of causing a fire risk. Moreover, in low-income households electrical wiring may be unsafe or even fall short of code of standards.

The older adults need advices on the fire safety. Individuals with physical disabilities or impairments should be the first to consider when coming up with fire safety programs. Smoke alarms for people with hearing problems should be fixed with vibrating pads that go under their pillow and strobe lights. This creates awareness to the victims in time thus, enabling them to run for their safety or even fight the fire.

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Where the old are living alone, they should arrange for a firefighter or a Community Safety Advocate to come and assess their homes (SINTEF, 2008). During their visit, guidance will be given on how to make your home safer. As a results, this will reduce chances of accidental fire occurring.

The older adults are encouraged to wear a dressing gown and drink hot water to keep warm rather than using space heaters during the cold winter months. Portable gas heaters should be checked regularly to ensure that they are safe. All paths in the house should be cleared and well salted so that in case of a fire they can easily escape without interruptions. In addition, elderly people are advised not to stay alone. Company from their grandchildren is also important as they are more sensitive to change.

Automatic extinguishing systems should be installed in houses, where old people live. In the event of a fire, they automatically switch on without even the knowledge of the occupants. This is one of the best methods to deal with fire incidences in a household, where occupants are mainly the old.

Kitchen safety devices that turn off the stove when one forgets and walks away should be applied. Installation of such devices gives a piece of mind to the aging senior and even their family members. Since the older people have poor memories to remember, this will greatly help to avoid the occurrence of fire.

Educating and Training Fire Safety

To curb this disastrous thing, the United States has come up with different ways and methods of training for fire safety. Different programs have been initiated at various levels of academics to lay emphasis on this matter. Fire prevention topic is vital to children, particularly in the younger grades, to enable the establishment of a strong foundation in the fight for accidental fire. Despite having fun with the children, such issue needs to be taught to them for safety purposes. Learning about fire safety at an early age increases the chances of being safe as they learn not to panic in the event of a fire. During the lessons, the instructor is advised to introduce fire prevention topic by the use of firehouse DVD, which gives children a look inside a firehouse with details of the protective gear the firefighters wear.

Inviting guest speakers to your classroom is also another important measure to use. This lays more emphasis to the children. Visitors from fire departments have safety trailers, which they use to show demonstrations of fire hazards and safety tips to kids.

Once the children are familiar with the fire safety, it is important to practice them. Allowing the kids to practice the procedure means so much. Stay Low and Go is a good slogan for remembering to crawl to safety. Not only does it help the kids, but also prevents other people from breathing in smoke that rise from a fire. Presence of a fire drill enhances proper behavior during a drill or even in the event of real fire.

Additionally, many colleges and universities in the United States offer fire science degree programs for fire department administrators, inspectors and aspiring proficient firefighters. Students are taught how to deal with accidental fires, arson and hazardous materials. Due to existence of many institutions offering these courses, it is advisable to carry out enough research. This ensures that individuals go for the best equipped school. In ensuring that, classes match their career aspirations, they need to review program’s descriptions at potential schools. Individuals’ working in management position might be fancy looking for training in leadership, communications and arson investigation while those, who desire a job in public administration may desire to study policymaking, fire prevention education and the legal aspects of fire science. Moreover, programs that focus on the development of improved fire protection and suppression systems may be ultimate for aspiring engineering professionals.

Some science colleges are offering long distance learning programs online. This enables those employed to enhance their skills. In the United States, online programs have encouraged many to undertake these courses as they learn from their residential. Those, who want to improve their skills, can seek advice from the experienced firefighters, who can recommend best schools for them. Increase in the number of those enrolling for fire related courses will lead to high percent of people with fire safety knowledge hence, it decreases chances of fire occurrence and provides better techniques of fighting fire incidences.

Most of the United States’ fire departments have different fire safety programs that they offer to the general public. Through seminar, a large number of the public have acquired some skills in regard to fire safety. Seminars are held in different localities, where fire experts meet the intended groups and educate them on ways to prevent from and to deal with fire in the event it occurs. Also through seminars, some selected members of the public are trained by the fire experts (Proulx, 2007). Training is a very important key element that enables trainees to work proactively before something takes place. Despite equipping our households with all the required fire equipment, without training, people will do responses that will endanger themselves rather than using them as they are intended. Most of the targeted groups for training are the students. This is because they are easy to train. According to Proulx, involvement of students is a key to success. Students are the best to train practically as it is interactive and engaging. For example, a fire extinguisher is a hand-on training experience that gets the attention of many students, who have never had before.

During the training, trainees are taught the reasons behind the set rules and why they should be followed. The key to humanizing fire safety is by altering people’s behavior and attitudes towards fire. Training puts a person in a better position to select a fire-safe housing, follow the set rules and regulations and know how to react properly in case of a fire.

Diverse programs are provided to soothe each age group. Generally, all the messages comprise of injury prevention, safety, escape in case of a fire and fire prevention in general. By the use of media programs, also a large percent of the public has been reached. The fire departments’ representatives put forward various programs through the media to educate the public. Through demonstrations that are appealing to the public, many people are eager to learn more. For instance, the use of real fire incidences gets the attention of many thereby, the intended message is conveyed appropriately. The use of media as proved to be the most appealing method to attract attention of the public and convince them.

The United States has also come up with strategies that have been developed to ensure that buildings are designed with how people will react to an emergency (Rita, 2009). Also the National Fire Protection Association has carried out research on how people react to fire and emergencies, which have enabled them to come up with different methods and ways to educate and train the public about fire safety. Only through training and educating people about fire and life safety can help to curb this hazardous thing. 

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Conclusion

Over the recent years, fire has been one of the causes of massive loss of life and destruction of properties worth millions of dollars. The young and the older adults above the age of 65 are the people prone to this hazardous thing. As seen earlier, the elderly are at high risk even compared to young. This is because they are always in a close contact with sources of fire to keep them warm bearing in mind that they have physical impairments that prevent from their escape in the event of a fire. When their clothing catches fire, physical impairments reduce their ability to extinguish the fire or even escape. In addition, physical impairments often put off the elderly people from performing life-saving actions, such as stop, drop and roll.

To counter this tragedy, safety policies have been implemented as the key elements. This includes constructing a building according to rules given by the Local Building Code and maintaining the structure in agreement with the requirements of the fire code (Maclean, 2007). Implementation of this safety policy in the United States has greatly contributed in reducing the number of deaths that occur as a result of fire.

Generally, fire does not only cause death and destroys properties, but continuous emission of toxic substances into the environment, affects the daily weather pattern. Frequent occurrence of fire in the United States has contributed to the changes in air quality due to release of toxic gases into the atmospheres. It is also one of the ecological factors upsetting plant life in the United States.

In addition, inappropriate use of heating equipments contributes to a high percent of the fire cases in the United States. Heating equipments should always be installed properly and maintenance done on a regular basis. Flammable material should be kept away from sources of heat. Safe cooking habits must be practiced. Cooking food ought not to be left unattended when using cooking heating equipments, such as a stove. Unsafe smoking habits need to be stopped for safety purposes too.

Individuals should plan and practice their home fire escape. This ensures that they are familiar with the escape routes. Each room should have at least two possible escape routes and the occupants should be made aware of them.

Lastly, the United States has played a big role in implementing ways to educate and train different personnel about fire and life safety. Through implementation of different programs, a large number of people have been trained and equipped with the knowledge of handling fire incidences. Educating the public on fire and life safety with reduce the number of occurrence of fire incidences.

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