Preventing deaths and injuries from house fires: an outcome evaluation of a community-based smoke alarm installation programme
- Gregory R Istre1,
- Mary A McCoy1,
- Billy J Moore2,
- Carey Roper3,
- Shelli Stephens-Stidham1,
- Jeffrey J Barnard4,
- Debra K Carlin3,
- Martha Stowe1,5,
- Ron J Anderson2
- 1Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA
- 2Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas, Texas, USA
- 3Inspection and Life Safety Education Division, Dallas Fire Rescue Department, Dallas, Texas, USA
- 4The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Office of the Medical Examiner, Dallas, Texas, USA
- 5Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation, Dallas, Texas, USA
- Correspondence to Dr Gregory R Istre, Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, 6300 Harry Hines Blvd., Suite 240, Dallas, TX 75235, USA; /
- Received 18 March 2013
- Revised 13 June 2013
- Accepted 14 June 2013
- Published Online First 19 July 2013
Background Few studies have examined the impact of community-based smoke alarm (SA) distribution programmes on the occurrence of house fire-related deaths and injuries (HF-D/I).
Objective To determine whether the rate of HF-D/I differed for programme houses that had a SA installed through a community-based programme called Operation Installation, versus non-programme houses in the same census tracts that had not received such a SA.
Methods Teams of volunteers and firefighters canvassed houses in 36 high-risk target census tracts in Dallas, TX, between April 2001 and April 2011, and installed lithium-powered SAs in houses where residents were present and gave permission. We then followed incidence of HF-D/I among residents of the 8134 programme houses versus the 24 346 non-programme houses.
Results After a mean of 5.2 years of follow-up, the unadjusted HF-D/I rate was 68% lower among residents of programme houses versus non-programme houses (3.1 vs 9.6 per 100 000 population, respectively; rate ratio, 0.32; 95% CI 0.10 to 0.84). Multivariate analysis including several demographic variables showed that the adjusted HF-D/I rate in programme houses was 63% lower than non-programme houses. The programme was most effective in the first 5 years after SA installation, with declining difference in rates after the 6th year, probably due to SAs becoming non-functional during that time.
Conclusions This collaborative, community-based SA installation programme was effective at preventing deaths and injuries from house fires, but the duration of effectiveness was less than 10 years.