Interventions for Preventing Residential Fires in Vulnerable Neighbourhoods and Indigenous Communities: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Apr 29;19(9):5434. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19095434.


Globally, residential fires constitute a substantial public health problem, causing major fire-related injury morbidity and mortality. This review examined the literature on residential fire prevention interventions relevant to Indigenous communities and assessed their effectiveness on mitigating fire incidents and their associated human and economic burden. Electronic databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and Web of Science Core Collection were reviewed for studies on fire prevention interventions published after 1990 and based on the 4E's of injury prevention approaches (Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Engagement). The grey literature and sources including indigenous organizational websites were also searched for eligible studies. Two authors independently screened, selected, and extracted data, in consultation with experts in the field. Outcomes measured included enhanced safety knowledge and practices, decreased residential fires incidents, reduced fire-related injuries and deaths, and lowered costs for healthcare needs. After removing duplicates, screening titles and abstracts, and assessing full texts, 81 articles were included in this review. Of the included studies, 29.1% implemented educational interventions within a variety of settings, including schools, community centres and homes, and included healthcare professionals and firefighters to raise awareness and the acquisition of fire safety skills. Engineering and environmental modifications were adopted in 20.2% of the studies with increased smoke alarm installations being the leading effective intervention followed by sprinkler inspections. Moreover, engagement of household members in hands-on safety training proved to be effective in enhancing household knowledge, fire safety decisions and practices. More importantly, effective outcomes were obtained when multi-faceted fire safety interventions were adopted, e.g., environmental modification and educational interventions, which together markedly reduced fire incidents and associated injuries. This review reveals the dearth of fire prevention evidence gathered directly within Indigenous communities. Nonetheless, relevant fire prevention recommendations can be made, calling for the adoption of combined and context-sensitive fire prevention interventions tailored to targeted Indigenous and vulnerable communities through multiple approaches and measures. Follow-ups and longitudinal studies are critical for accurate evaluation of the long-term outcomes and impacts on preventing residential fires.

Keywords: fire prevention interventions; fire safety skills; fire-related injuries; indigenous communities; residential fires; safety behaviours.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Firefighters*
  • Humans
  • Schools*
  • Smoke


  • Smoke

Grants and funding

This research was funded by a grant from the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council, Canada (