Author(s): James Pauley. Published on December 29, 2014.

First Word AS WE ENTER A NEW YEAR, it’s a good time to take a look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. In tackling the problem of fire, we have accomplished much over the past year, but there is still so much to do.

We enjoyed a lot of success last year with public education around working smoke alarms. We partnered with many great organizations to drive the message, including Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, CVS Pharmacy, American Red Cross, and Legoland. Visits to our smoke alarm central page nearly tripled. We introduced our new mobile app for kids—Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarm—which exceeded more than 90,000 downloads and held the number-two position on Apple iTunes’ top downloads list for kids.

The year ahead includes six key areas of focus for our efforts at NFPA. Some are more traditional and some are new, but all play a key role in accomplishing our mission.

Codes and standards. Over the long term, one of the most effective ways to accomplish our fire, electrical, and building safety mission is through the adoption and enforcement of our codes and standards. Our role here is extensive and spans four major areas: development, adoption, education, and enforcement.

Home fires. The data shows us that the majority of fire deaths occur in homes, and because of this we will continue to focus on key elements related not just to fire safety education, but to areas that can have a major safety impact, such as home fire sprinklers.

First responders. We will continue our efforts around the traditional fire service, while also addressing the all-hazards aspects that increasingly affect first responders, such as emergency medical events, active shooter incidents, and more.

Sustainability. Society’s sustainability push has fire safety ramifications. Structures constructed of lightweight building materials can change fire scenarios for firefighters, and the combustibility of materials inside those structures can greatly impact fire spread. Research in these areas, along with revisions to codes and standards, need to keep pace.

Data. How we gather, analyze, and use data is even more critical considering the challenge of harnessing information in our data-rich world. Solid data allows us to focus our efforts on those areas with the most impact.

Technology. From smart firefighting, where technology can improve situational awareness and selection of tactics, to modern forms of energy that require safe electrical installation requirements, we must remain up-to-date on technological changes. We must ensure that our codes, standards, and information reflect our understanding of this rapid and ongoing technological evolution.

Since coming to NFPA, I’ve had people repeatedly say to me, “Fire deaths are down, right? So we’ve solved the fire problem?” You need only look at the areas listed here to see that the problem is not solved. There are constant changes we must adapt to in order to move ahead. While the numbers show that improvements have been made, fire still kills and injures far too many people in the U.S.

No, our work is not close to being done.