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Home fire safety canvassing: Achieving better results

Posted: Aug. 9, 2018

Peer-reviewed research has, until now, not done a lot to identify best practices in home visit programs. A recent study1 hoped to make progress in that regard by gaining a few key insights into what wins maximum neighborhood participation in a fire department canvassing effort.

In over 170 separate canvassing events in Baltimore over a one-year period beginning in 2010, researchers zeroed in on several predictors of whether a resident would be:

  1. At home at the time of a visit.
  2. Willing to answer the door and allow firefighters to install a free smoke alarm and provide home safety education.

Research-based tips for canvassing events

To maximize community participation, fire departments should:

  • Plan deliberately ahead of the event. Conduct your home visits on nights and weekends to significantly increase the odds of finding residents at home.
  • Ask a community health worker to promote your event 3-4 days in advance by going door-to-door and speaking with residents, or leaving hang tags if no one is at home.
  • Consider the weather. Residents in this study were reluctant to allow firefighters into their homes during rainy weather.

See also: Study reveals successful smoke alarm installation partnership

Learn more about this research

This research article is available through our library by contacting

1Debinski, B. McDonald, E., Frattaroli, S., Shields, W., Omaki, E., Gielen, A. (2017). Predictors of participation in a fire department community canvassing program. Journal of Burn Care and Research: Vol 38 (4), 225-229.

This summary is for informational purposes only. As such, the content does not reflect any official positions, policies or guidelines on behalf of the sender, the U.S. Fire Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, nor any other federal agencies, departments or contracting entities. Similarly, this summary does not represent in any manner an official endorsement or relationship to any private or public companies, organizations/associations, or any authors or individuals cited or websites associated within the article.

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