Virginia Department of Fire Programs shares safety tips

Published 12:33 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

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The Virginia Department of Fire Programs reminds Virginians of a few simple actions that could reduce fire-related risks and property loss as the new school year ramps up.

VDFP will promote tips on its social media platforms from Sept. 1-7 for organizations to share and retweet.

“When students in the Commonwealth return to school, it’s a good time to refresh ourselves with helpful tips about fire prevention. We’re all primed for learning and retaining information right now,” said VDFP Executive Director Michael Reilly. “Planning for the worst is unsettling, yet it matters most when the worst happens. We want Virginians to be just as knowledgeable as our firefighters.”

In 2017, more than 23,000 fires occurred in Virginia with about 300 civilian fire-related injuries and 50 civilian fire-related deaths. The total in fire dollar losses was over $177 million dollars.

As of May 29, the Commonwealth experienced 39 fire fatalities, or about one civilian killed by fire every four days in Virginia. Take action today with prevention tips:

In the home/apartment/college suite

  • In your kitchen, hang curtains, potholders, and dishtowels at least three feet from the stove; unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Avoid use of extension cords; never run them under rugs or where they may be pinched  Never smoke in bed and dispose of cigarettes properly.
  • Sleep with the bedroom doors closed to slow a fire’s progress toward you.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Check cords regularly for wear and tear.

For homeowners/families/roommates

  • Create a safe escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
  • Identify two exits from each room.
  • Consider escape ladders for second floor bedroom windows.
  • Choose a meeting place a short but safe distance from your home.
  • Have your chimney inspected before the winter season approaches.
  • Install smoke alarms outside of sleeping areas.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.

Stay vigilant year-round In addition to training and resources, VDFP provides inspections of state-owned buildings in Virginia through its State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO.) The SFMO also develops and presents education materials for college administrations, fire service organizations, building official groups, inspectors, school teachers, and other client groups. Visit the VDFP website,, for additional publications on fire safety tips for facilities.