Massachusetts Residential Fire Injury Prevention Program

Contact: Christine M. Farrell-O'Reilly, Director, at (617) 624-6076 or christine.farrell-o'

The goal of this program is to increase the presence of working smoke alarms in the homes of eligible Massachusetts residents. The target populations are elders, families with young children, refugees, and immigrants. The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program is administered by the MDPH's Injury Prevention and Control Program in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services. Currently, two cities are supported to conduct a one year smoke alarm installation and education project. Local fire departments partnering with community agencies to provide smoke alarm installation and fire safety and prevention education are welcome to apply for the program.

Partner Agency

The Department of Fire Services, headed by the State Fire Marshal, is responsible for overall coordination of fire service policy and operations. The Department works to promote and enhance firefighter safety through policy and training and to assist and support the fire service in protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Massachusetts. The Office of the State Fire Marshal provides public education, investigation, licensing and regulation requirements, law enforcement, and technical assistance to fire departments, the public, and regulated trades and industries. For more information, visit the Department of Fire Services website.

The Director of the Residential Fire Injury Prevention Program is an active member of the Massachusetts Fire and Life Safety Task Force. Created in 1994, the mission of the task force is to provide leadership and advocacy for fire and life safety education within Massachusetts. The task force members are firefighter-educators, classroom teachers, health care professionals, health educators and injury prevention professionals. The task force carries out its mission by:

  • Organizing an annual statewide skill development conference (13th annual in 2007).
  • Advocating for funding for the Student Awareness of Fire Education Program (S.A.F.E.).
  • Providing technical assistance to the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in developing certification procedures for firefighter-educators and making recommendations for training fire educators.
  • Producing and updating the Massachusetts Public Fire and Life Safety Education Curriculum Planning Guidebook (undergoing third revision).
  • Providing technical advice to the State Fire Marshal through the public education manager on public education policy matters.

Massachusetts Statistics

  • Fires and burns from flames or hot substances were responsible for 45 deaths among Massachusetts residents in 2005, and for 499 non-fatal inpatient hospitalizations and 10,372 emergency department visits in FY 2005.
  • Children ages 0-4, residents ages 65 years and older, and individuals in certain occupations, such as restaurant kitchen workers, are among the groups at highest risk for fire and burn injuries.
  • In FY 2005, total inpatient and emergency department charges for unintentional fire/burn-related injuries were just under $22 million. The financial burden associated with burn-related injuries is not confined to health care charges. Estimates indicate that property damages alone amounted to $222 million in 2005.
  • See: 2005annualreport.pdf  pdf format of 2005annualreport.pdf
file size 5MB
  • See also: MBIRS
  • Fire and burn injuries bulletin (PDF) pdf format of flame-bulletin.pdf
doc format of                             flame-bulletin.doc

Prevention Tips

  • Provide smokers with large, deep ashtrays. Wet butts and ashes before emptying ashtrays. NEVER smoke in bed or while drowsy.
  • Give space heaters space. Keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn-including you. Unplug them when not in use.
  • Be careful while cooking. Wear tight-fitting or rolled-up sleeves when cooking. NEVER leave cooking unattended. If a pan of food catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
  • Have smoke alarms installed outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your home. Test monthly and replace the battery annually.
  • Plan and practice your escape route. Know two ways out of every room in your home. In a fire, get out and stay out.
  • Know your local emergency number (9-1-1). Call AFTER you have escaped from your home.
  • If your clothing catches on fire: stop (do not run), drop gently to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over to smother the flames. If you cannot do that, smother the flames with a towel or blanket. Immerse burns in cool water only for 10 to 15 minutes.

Data and Information are from the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System .

Related Links

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To learn more about residential fire injury prevention, please contact us.


This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.