14. Public Education

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Public education must receive more resources and be championed as a critical fire and life safety program.

Fire and life safety education is an effective means for establishing fire safe behavior among people of all ages and abilities. It also promotes understanding and acceptance of regulations and technologies that can improve safety within the homes, businesses, and institutions. Furthermore, educating the public about how to prevent fires can contribute significantly to reducing firefighter deaths. If evacuation plans are in place and practiced by residents of a home or occupants of an office building, responding firefighters will not as frequently face the personal risk associated with rescuing trapped citizens. Moreover, fighting extremely dangerous fires will become a less frequent necessity as individuals assume personal responsibility for maintenance of smoke alarms and as they adopt early suppression technologies such as fire sprinklers.

The 14th Initiative asks us to rethink our priorities in the fire service—to recognize the central and enduring value of public education, and to raise fire prevention to the level of other department operations.

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