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Yarnell Hill Fire Loss of Life Brings Fire Safety to Mind

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

We at the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of the brave firefighters whose lives have been lost or altered dramatically by these wildfires.

Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward said they have been getting a tremendous outpouring of help from other fire departments locally and nationally. Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said merchants from the community have been donating food and supplies to the families of the fallen firefighters. Also of note, on June 30, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a Fire Management Assistance Grant, which makes FEMA funding available to reimburse 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to all the family, colleagues and friends of the professional Arizona firefighters who lost their lives to protect lives and property,” said Nancy Ward FEMA IX Regional Administrator. “It is a truly heartbreaking loss.”

At the time federal assistance was requested, the fire threatened 578 homes in and around the community of Yarnell, Peeple’s Valley, and Model Creek/Double A Bar Ranch with a combined population of over 1,220. The State of Arizona further reported that the fire at one point burned in excess of 800 and 1000 acres of state, and private land, and also threatened a rail line 3 miles west of the fire and State Highway 89.

While the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, the Yarnell Fire Department reports that the cause was “likely lightning.” In honor of the fallen firefighters, we would like to devote the next two weeks’ blog posts to summer safety, to encourage our subscribers and readers to BE FIRESAFE this holiday week as well as the rest of the summer. This week, we will focus on safety before, during and after the 4th of July. Next week, we will cover additional outdoor fire safety tips.

How to Prevent Outdoor Fires

4th of July

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports:

  • More fires are reported on the Fourth of July than on any other day.
  • Fireworks are the cause of half of those fires.
  • In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structures, 400 vehicles, and 16,300 outside and other fires.
  • In total, these fires resulted in an estimated $32 million in direct property damage.
  • Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often kids & teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
  • The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19 and adults 25-44, with one-quarter (26 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in 2011 under age 15.
  • Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.
  • According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 200 fireworks injuries a day during the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended.

To BE SAFE on the 4th of July:

  1. Leave fireworks to the professionals! Do not use consumer fireworks! The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
  2. After a fireworks display, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, they may still be active.
  3. Don’t give sparklers to children. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
  4. If a public fireworks’ display is not available in your area, find other ways to safely celebrate Independence Day.
  5. If you insist on buying and lighting your own fireworks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some extremely important tips. Please spend some time reviewing their fireworks’ safety suggestions.

Check back next week, when we will cover some additional summer safety and fire prevention tips. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES

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