Evaluated community fire safety interventions in the United States: a review of current literature

J Community Health. 2006 Jun;31(3):176-97. doi: 10.1007/s10900-005-9007-z.


The purpose of the study was to assess the state of fire prevention research, provide an updated synthesis of evaluated fire prevention programs, and discuss the role of fire fighters and data systems in prevention efforts. The review included all evaluations of U.S. based fire prevention interventions published between January 1998 and September 2004 and any earlier articles about U.S. fire prevention interventions not included in two prior review articles. We retrieved information from each identified study including evaluation findings, involvement of fire service personnel and use of existing data systems. We identified twelve articles: seven reported on smoke alarm interventions, three on multi-faceted programs, and two other programs. Five programs involved fire service personnel in the design, implementation, and/or evaluation, and three used existing data systems. Studies reviewed suggest that canvassing and smoke alarm installations are the most effective means of distributing alarms and increasing the functional status of distributed alarms. The functionality of smoke alarms, an issue noted in earlier reviews, remains a problem. Programs involving partnerships with fire departments have indicated success in preventing fires and deaths, improving smoke alarm ownership and functional status, and improving children's fire safety knowledge. Using existing data systems to target and to evaluate interventions was effective. In the years since prior reviews, some improvements in the rigor of evaluation designs have been made, but there is still a need for high quality evaluations that will inform fire injury prevention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Delaware
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fires / prevention & control*
  • Fires / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Protective Devices / supply & distribution*
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Safety*
  • Security Measures*
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • United States


  • Smoke