For the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we designed an evaluation to measure the effectiveness of a fire safety program for children, funded by the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The national study was designed to compare students’ retention of fire safety knowledge after receiving (1) instruction in fire-safety trailers, (2) instruction in classrooms, or (3) no instruction; in rural, suburban and urban locations.
How We Helped:
Fire Chiefs and Fire Safety Instructors from diverse locations were consulted to understand program components and help determine goals, objectives and anticipated program outcomes. Twenty-three fire departments were recruited and aided the evaluation team in recruiting 46 schools. The evaluation was conducted over two school years and involved the survey of more than 1,800 second grade children receiving fire safety education in a classroom setting, in a fire safety trailer, or receiving no fire safety education. Children from rural, urban and suburban communities across 14 states were evaluated, with each being surveyed immediately pre- and post-intervention, as well as six months following the program. Forty-six schools participated in the evaluation, with two classrooms participating from each school. Additionally, the fire safety instructors, parents, teachers and school administrators were surveyed to understand program components and results from their perspectives.
The evaluation concluded that second grade students learned fire safety, as currently delivered, in classroom and trailer settings. The significant improvement in fire safety knowledge ascertained immediately following instruction was maintained over a six-month period. Parents reported that children often shared fire safety messages taught during the education sessions. Parents also reported that completing the survey highlighted areas that needed attention in their homes and offered an appreciation of the education provided by the fire department. Nearly all teachers were satisfied with the fire safety education provided by the fire department. The school administrators generally thought the instruction was age-appropriate and that the fire safety instructors were enthusiastic and had positive interactions with the children.