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.
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