Fire Prevention Week Theme: Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | 10:30am

Every year during Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3-9), fire departments across the country unite to raise awareness about a crucial fire safety message that can help save lives and property. This year’s fire prevention theme is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” where all Americans are urged to focus on the importance of learning the sounds that their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms make. I remind Tennesseans to install working smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home. Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. Conduct family fire drills and make sure everyone living a house knows the way out of every room.

Since 2012, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office has provided smoke alarms to fire departments and volunteer organizations across Tennessee through our “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” smoke alarm program. To date, more than 254,000 smoke alarms have been distributed and 324 lives have been saved by smoke alarms installed through the program.

Providing smoke alarms to fire departments in order to help reduce fire deaths is just one part of the mission of the Division of Fire Prevention, also known as the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO).

The SFMO is committed to protecting the safety of Tennesseans and their property through fire prevention, education, codes enforcement, inspection and regulation. While all these sections might have different tasks, they all share the same goal of making Tennessee a safer and more attractive place to live, work and play. I’d like to share a few details about our work to help keep Tennessee consumers safe.

Codes officials in the SFMO’s Codes Enforcement Section, as well as those in the Electrical, Residential and Marina Inspections Section, work to ensure buildings are constructed safely and public marinas are operating safely. As part of that mission, we have recently established a program for the inspection of “tiny houses” in order to help maintain consumer safety when purchasing non-traditional, permanent residential structures, such as tiny homes.

The SFMO supports the heroes of the Tennessee fire service through a variety of ways including training firefighters at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Under the leadership of Governor Bill Lee and the General Assembly, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Commission on Firefighting have implemented the Volunteer Educational Incentive Program. The program will provide $600 annually to volunteer firefighters for completing the program requirements of 30 hours of annual training with educational directives related to achieving Firefighter l certification.

In 2020, the SFMO developed the Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant following the passage of legislation – setting aside $500,000 for the purchase of firefighting equipment by Tennessee’s volunteer fire departments or to help volunteer fire departments meet local matching requirements for federal grants to purchase equipment. The SFMO received over 170 applications from volunteer fire departments. We look forward to continuing this expanded program with $1 million this fiscal year to assist volunteer firefighters.

As you can see, the SFMO is a multi-faceted organization that continues to have a positive impact on Tennesseans of all ages. The work of the SFMO in serving our first responders and helping save lives of Tennesseans is a high honor and privilege.

Gary Farley is the Assistant Commissioner of Fire Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance.