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Fire Prevention in Delaware: A Case Study of Fire and Life Safety Initiatives

Frattaroli, Shannon PhD, MPH; Gielen, Andrea C. ScD, ScM; Piver-Renna, Jennifer PhD; Pollack, Keshia M. PhD, MPH; Ta, Van M. PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: November/December 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 6 - p 492–498
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318211396b
Original Articles

Context: Injuries resulting from residential house fires are a significant public health issue. The fire service is engaged in fire prevention activities aimed at preventing fire-related morbidity and mortality. The fire service in Delaware is regarded by some leaders in the field as a model for fire and life safety education (FLSE).

Objective: We identified 3 questions to guide this research. What is the culture and context of fire prevention in Delaware? What prevention programs and policies constitute Delaware's fire prevention efforts? What can be learned from select model programs regarding their impact, sustainability, strengths, limitations, and general applicability? A discussion of the lessons learned from Delaware's experience with FLSE initiatives concludes the article.

Design: We used a single case study design and collected and analyzed data from in-depth interviews, documents, and participant observation notes to address the research questions.

Setting: Data were collected in Delaware.

Participants: Interviewees included a purposeful sample of members of the Delaware fire service.

Main Outcome Measures: Descriptions of the context in which fire prevention occurs, the initiatives underway, and the factors associated with successfully supporting fire prevention in the state.

Results: Data from 16 key informant interviews, relevant documents, and direct observations of FLSE events revealed a fire service rooted in tradition, dedication, and community. A compilation of state and local FLSE initiatives illustrates the diversity of FLSE in Delaware. Thematic analysis of the data emphasize the importance of a strategic, comprehensive, and coordinated approach to realizing success in Delaware's approach to FLSE.

Conclusions: The fire service is an important part of the public health infrastructure. While their role as first responders is evident, their contributions to prevention are also significant. This research suggests ways to support fire service prevention efforts and more fully integrate their FLSE work into the public health infrastructure.

This research suggests ways to support fire service prevention efforts and more fully integrate their fire and life safety education (FLSE) work into the public health infrastructure.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Frattaroli, Gielen, and Pollack); Army Institute of Public Health, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland (Dr Piver-Renna); Department of Health Science, San Jose State University, San José, California (Dr Ta).

Correspondence: Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, 624 N Broadway, 5th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21205 (

This research was supported by a grant to the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Grant No. R49CCR302486. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors thank Mr Steve Austin (DVFA), Dr Mick Ballesteros (CDC), Mr Brian Cowan (FEMA), Dr Shane Diekman (CDC), and Dr Gwendolyn Bergen (CDC) for their guidance and assistance throughout this project.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.