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NEWS
SFPE Conducts Survey
March 1, 2010

Older adults are more vulnerable to a number of potentially life-threatening risks including fire, either at home or in assisted living facilities such as nursing homes. In a recent nationwide survey conducted by the Society for Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), Americans correctly identified adults age 65 and older as the most at-risk group.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans named older adults as the most at risk of fire danger, while 26 percent of respondents indicated that infants and toddlers were most at risk. At the same time, 63% of Americans stated they think about fire less than once a year.

While fire is a noteworthy risk for people of all ages, federal government statistics cite older adults to be approximately twice as likely to die in a fire as compared to the rest of the population. Older adults are statistically more likely to suffer from reduced sensory abilities and mental capacities as well as physical disabilities. Moreover, various medical devices, cooking equipment as well as electrical products can pose serious fire risks to older adults.

There are numerous ways that fire protection engineers play an essential role in designing safe facilities that house the aging population. For example, fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start, how fires grow, and how fire and smoke affects people, buildings and property. Additionally, they use the latest technologies to:

  • Design systems that control fires, alert people to danger and provide means for escape;
  • Evaluate buildings to pinpoint the risks of fires and the means to prevent them;
  • Conduct fire safety research on consumer products and construction materials; and
  • Investigate fires to discover how fire spreads, why protective measures failed, and how those measures could have been designed more effectively.

The Society seeks to increase the public’s awareness of how science and technology is used to protect people from fire.

The survey, commissioned by the Society for Fire Protection Engineers and conducted in January 2010 by Synovate, polled more than one thousand American adults. The findings have a margin of error of plus (+) or minus (-) three percent.


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