We are sorry to announce that the Fire Day with MOHAI and Seattle Fire planned for this weekend is now postponed. Please stay tuned for a new date!
Ten years ago this month a deadly house fire in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle killed four children and a young woman – all were members of Seattle’s Ethiopian and Eritrean communities. This tragic fire was the deadliest fire in Seattle in over 30 years and greatly impacted members of the Seattle Fire Department and the wider community. This tragedy was especially difficult for Seattle’s East African communities.
Shortly after the fire, Seattle Fire Department members met with community leaders to begin gathering ideas on how to reach more East African communities with fire safety information. The Community Fire Safety Advocate (CFSA) program developed as a response to this tragic day. This program became the fire department’s primary outreach and educational program targeting East African community members within weeks of this devastating fire.
CFSA Outreach and Education
The CFSA program was modeled after community-based popular education programs such as Public Health promotoras and community health worker programs which utilize people from the communities trying to be reached as the primary outreach workers. The original cohort of four CFSAs were community leaders who spoke Somali, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Oromo. This group received training on the reality of fire, home fire safety, and how 911 and the fire department works. Classroom training included tours of fire stations and the Fire Alarm Center. One very important aspect of this training was the information the CFSAs shared with the fire department on some of their traditions and customs that could potentially be fire hazards. It was from this exchange of ideas that shaped the training and fire safety messaging.
After receiving the training, the CFSAs primarily set out to conduct outreach and education at community events to reach target populations. At these events, they utilized interactive activities to demonstrate important fire prevention and safety messaging. They also gave presentations in their native languages. The focus of their safety messaging was cooking fire safety, home fire evacuation, and calling 911 – the most common fire-related concerns. They also discussed how to be safe when burning incense or when roasting coffee at home.
Two of my favorite subjects to talk about are heaters and smoke alarms because when I go to a friends or relatives house, I see their furniture is against their baseboard heater or the smoke alarm is hanging open. I taught them about fire safety, and now they know how to keep their home safe. When I give a presentation, I give examples about my own family and the people in the audience tell me their houses are not safe. They tell me when they go home today; they are going to make a change in their own house. Every time I hear that, I feel that my team and I have done a great job.Maymuna – CFSA (first cohort)
CFSA outreach activities were often supported with firefighter visits at community events. Firefighter visits allow immigrant/refugee community members to interact with firefighters in a non-emergency situation which builds trust and strengthens relationships between the fire department and the communities it serves.
CFSAs after 10 years
Since 2010, the CFSA program expanded to include addional immigrant/refugee communities in Seattle. The program has been recognized nationally for being a successful community risk reduction program. Currently, there are 11 active community members who provide fire safety and CPR education in Oromo, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese) and Spanish.
Over the past 10 years, educational messaging expanded to include CPR education, carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, and the importance of working smoke/CO alarms.
June 12, 2020 will mark 10 years since the tragic fire that took 5 lives. The CFSAs have made a positive impact in our communities, especially those most vulnerable to fires and other emergencies. Over the past 10 years, CFSAs have made over 34,000 community contacts. Because of their knowledge of the fire department and the communities in which they serve, the CFSAs have also been tasked with serving on focus groups and assisting with interpretation and translation needs. Their input has shaped how the Public Affairs Division conducts its outreach in immigrant/refugee communities. Beyond the numbers, their efforts not only make communities safer, they provide a vital link between the Seattle Fire Department and the communities it serves. CFSAs make it possible for the department to build stronger relationships with community-based organizations and establish trust among Seattle’s most vulnerable communities.
For me it’s been a very amazing and fruitful learning experience working with the CFSA program as a community outreach and educator advocate. This program really provides the basics and importance of fire safety at home for our community. And seeing the response from many people when we are out there providing the information and education is very meaningful to me because it shows that we are doing a very good job and also brings to life the awareness of fire safety.Paola F. – CFSA
I love it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily halted community outreach efforts but the department is preparing and planning to continue this important work in the near future.
For more information about the CFSA program or to request participation in a community event or presentation, contact William Mace.
You could save a life – take a few minutes to learn hands-only CPR
Even during this pandemic, with stay-at-home orders and physical distancing recommendations, it’s important to be prepared for sudden emergencies such as sudden cardiac arrest. Around 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home so it’s important to know what to do if this were to happen. A cardiac patient’s chance of becoming a long-term survivor are more than doubled if a someone on the scene administers prompt CPR.
Administering hands-only CPR (without breaths) is a simple technique that only takes a few minutes to learn. Watch this short video to learn the steps for performing hands-only CPR – you could save a life.
If you see someone collapse, follow these steps:
- Call 911 – Give specific information to the dispatcher, starting with the location. Is an AED available? If so, send someone to retrieve it and use it as soon as you can.
- Make sure the scene is safe
- Quickly determine if the person needs CPR – If the person is not responsive or not breathing normally – tap them on the shoulder and shout, “Are you ok. Are you ok?” If the person doesn’t move, speak, blink, or otherwise react, then he or she is not responding.
- Begin Chest Compressions – Use two hands, with straight arms, and push down hard and fast in the center of the chest. Make sure compressions are at least 2-inches deep, and are at the rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
- Don’t stop compressions until help arrives or take turns with someone if you get tired
Help us spread awareness during this year’s National CPR/AED Awareness Week by sharing this information with at least one family member or friend.
We have responded to a few fires recently that were caused by smoking materials left unattended or discarded improperly. With warm and dryer weather in the forecast, more such fires will likely occur.
Steps to help reduce the chance of such fires include the following:
- Carelessly discarded cigarettes and other smoking materials can easily start a fire in dry conditions. Extinguish smoking materials before you leave the room or area
- Douse smoking materials in water before tossing out
- Make sure proper cigarette disposal canisters are available in areas where smoking is allowed
Even though smoking is not allowed on rooftops, Fire Investigators frequently find cigarette butts in planter boxes and in garbage cans. It is important to never discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily. A small cigarette butt in dry conditions can turn into a major fire.
To make sure your home is safe also consider:
- Removing long grass, weeds or anything that can burn from around buildings. This includes limbs that touch buildings or hang near the roof
- Removing dead plants or bushes as soon as possible
- Clearing roof and gutters of needles and leaves
Seattle Parks, including pools and beaches remain closed as our county remains in phase one of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start plan. However, first responders throughout King County are responding to more preventable drownings as summer approaches.
If you plan to be in or near water, follow these recommendations:
Know the risks — Washington waters are often cold enough to cause muscles to not work, even on the hottest summer day. Cold water can weaken even the strongest swimmer.
Learn to swim, including water safety and survival skills — To enjoy the water safely, learn swim strokes, water safety, survival skills, and becoming comfortable in the water.
Wear a lifejacket — Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket when boating, tubing, rafting, swimming or other activities in or on lakes, rivers, salt water, or pools without a lifeguard.
Swim where there is a lifeguard — Swim in areas with lifeguards when possible. Wear a lifejacket while swimming in unguarded waters or until the guards start their service.
Supervise children in or near water — Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Stay within touching distance of young children at all times.
Do not use alcohol or drugs during water activities — Never use alcohol or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water. Alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. Exposure to sun and heat worsen these effects.
Learn first aid and CPR — Learn first aid and CPR. Seconds count—the more quickly lifesaving CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. Dial 911 in an emergency.
The global pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways, including our ability to celebrate traditional holidays with family and friends. With summer around the corner and the Stay Home order still limiting community gatherings, no fireworks displays are planned along South Lake Union or Gasworks Park in 2020.
While it’s tempting to make up the difference and try your own fireworks, it’s both illegal and dangerous. Summer fireworks cause more injuries in the shortest time frame than any other part of the year. This month, we’ve already responded to fires and serious injuries caused by fireworks.
Last year, Harborview reported a total of 44 fireworks-related injuries in just a week. Many were to the face and eye. Seven people suffered either partial or complete amputations, ranging from loss of fingers to an entire hand, and 20 were injured severely enough to be admitted to the hospital. Sadly, this level of injury is not deemed unusual for this time of year.
Don’t become a statistic! Save your face, eyes, fingers and hands. The risk of losing a limb or permanent disability is not worth the short-sighted thrill of setting off illegal fireworks. Your pets, neighbors and first responders thank you for making the right choice not to use fireworks, especially this year, when so many are at home just trying to stay safe.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are participating in national We Remember Night in support of families of firefighters and EMS members who have taken their own lives. We want to help raise awareness about behavioral health issues affecting first responders, especially in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where many of us are on the front lines providing emergency medical services.
More than 20 years ago, Seattle firefighters started their own Peer Support Team with the goal of helping each other cope with traumatic incidents, manage stress and build resilience. In addition to establishing resources where members can seek professional help, 24/7. We also support families, friends and communities who have suffered a loss. We remember that their lives ended too soon – their hard work, dedication and service will never be forgotten.
If you’re in crisis, there are options available to help you cope. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. We can all help prevent suicide. The lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
With summer-like weather coming this weekend, more people will be starting up their grills for the first time this year. As with all cooking, it is important to stay alert and near the stove or grill to prevent a fire from starting and getting out of control. The leading issues in grill fires are mechanical failure or malfunction, combustibles placed too close to the heat, and leaving a hot grill unattended.
Before you head to your favorite park to grill, check out the Governor’s Stay at Home, Stay Healthy order and Seattle Parks and Recreation guidelines. Currently, all outdoor grills and fire pits at Seattle Parks are closed.
Enjoy grilling safely by following these tips:
- Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. Never barbecue in an enclosed area – dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) can accumulate and be deadly. If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911.
- Set-up your grill in an open area at least three feet away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves and brush.
- Make sure all of the grilling parts are firmly in place and the grill is on a flat surface.
- For propane grills, make sure the hose connection is tight and check the hoses for leaks. This is especially important when using the grill for the first time in a long time.
- Never leave grills unattended while cooking.
- Keep a three-foot zone around the grill where children and pets aren’t allowed.
- Do not leave starter fluid, lighters or matches within the reach of children.
- Use the proper tools. Long handled barbecue utensils and flame retardant mitts will prevent burns from heat and flame.
- For charcoal grills, avoid adding lighter fluid after the coals are lit.
- For propane grills, turn the grill and fuel cylinder off immediately after grilling.
- For charcoal grills, allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers; place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.
More grilling safety tips from the US Fire Administration
Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have a mild illness and should recover at home. Care at home can help stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect people who are at risk of getting seriously ill. Here are a few tips on how to prevent the spread of germs at home when caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19:
- The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If your symptoms are mild, stay home and consult by phone with your primary physician if needed on appropriate steps to take.
- More severe symptoms of COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face. If your symptoms are severe and life-threatening, call 911.
Limit shared living spaces and avoid sharing household items:
- Have the person with COVID-19 stay in one room, away from other people and pets.
- If possible, do not share the same bathroom.
- Deliver meals to the person with the illness instead of having them enter the kitchen.
- Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels or bedding.
Practice good hygiene:
- Everyone should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue in a lined trash can. Immediately wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Thoroughly wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This includes backs of hands up to the wrist, between the fingers and underneath finger nails.
- Use hand sanitizer when soap is not available.
Clean all common surfaces and areas every day:
- Use household cleaners that are safe and effective. For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- Wear gloves and open a window for ventilation.
- Common areas include:
- Furniture such as tables, chairs, desks, cabinets and beds.
- Kitchen counters, bathroom fixtures, toilets and bathtubs or showers.
- Follow manufacturer’s guidance on cleaning high-touch electronics such as remotes, phones, keyboards and tablets.
Discontinuing home isolation:
For individuals with symptoms who are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 and are directed to care for themselves at home, end home isolation under the following conditions:
- Three days (72 hours) after the fever is gone without use of fever-reducing medications AND you see an improvement in your initial symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath);
- If you did not have a
fever, three days (72 hours) after you see an improvement in your initial
symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath);
- Seven days after symptoms began, whichever is longer.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, after 11 p.m., crews responded to a working fire caused by overheated dryer lint that accumulated. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the fire caused extensive damage in the home estimating $190,000. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one-third of home dryer fires are caused by built up lint.
Follow these simple safety tips to prevent a clothes dryer fire in your home.
- Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
- Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
- Clean the lint filter before and after each cycle.
- Do not forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up.
- Check the venting system behind the dryer to make sure that it is not damaged, crushed or restricted.
- Make sure that the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is operating.
Consider replacing plastic accordion-style ducts that connect the dryer to the vent with a flexible metal duct or a rigid metal duct. Lint can accumulate in the ridges over time and block the flow or air.
Also, always turn off the clothes dryer before going to bed or before leaving your home. If you are home when a fire starts, get out first and call 9-1-1.