Fire and Life Safety Education for the Elderly

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By Andrew G. Smerz

This applied research project examined elderly fire and life safety education. The problem is that the Milwaukee Fire Department has not implemented an effective public education program to address the fire and life safety risks of the elderly population of the City of Milwaukee. The purpose of this research paper was to identify the specific fire and life safety risks to the elderly population in the City of Milwaukee and make recommendations for the development of an elderly public education program.

This research project employed the descriptive research method to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the current and future demographics of the elderly population in the City of Milwaukee?
  2. What are the fire and life safety risks of the elderly population of the City of Milwaukee?
  3. What is the perception of the elderly population regarding fire and life safety risks?
  4. What are the issues that must be addressed in creating an educational program for the elderly population?
  5. What intervention strategies can be employed to effectively address elderly fire and life safety risks?
  6. What evaluation strategies are effective in measuring the impact of fire and life safety education programs for the elderly population?

Research procedures included the compilation and analysis of data from Milwaukee Fire Department records, census reports, and Milwaukee County Emergency Medical Services records. Procedures also include a survey of other fire departments, surveys of the elderly population, and facilitated elderly focus group discussions.

Results showed that segments of the elderly population of the City of Milwaukee continue to grow in size and are disproportionately impacted by fire and accidental death and injury incidents including falls and motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents. Surveys of the elderly indicated that despite knowledge of risks, their impacts, and the ability to prevent accidents, education is necessary to achieve elderly safety. Research for this paper supports the recommendation that the Milwaukee Fire Department initiate an elderly fire and life safety education program to address fire and accidental death and injury incidents. The program is to be modeled after effective nationally developed programs that include community partnerships and a sound evaluation process.