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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2011 Nov-Dec;17(6):492-8. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318211396b.

Fire prevention in Delaware: a case study of fire and life safety initiatives.

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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



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).


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.


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.


Data were collected in Delaware.


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


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


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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