Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home Safety Council® Presents 2009 Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award

Patricia Mieszala, RN, Recognized for Lifetime of Commitment to Reducing Burn Injuries and Juvenile-Related Fires

The Home Safety Council presented the third annual Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education to Patricia Mieszala, RN, at the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s (CFSI) National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC on April 2, 2009.

Throughout her 40-year career, beginning with ten years of service as a psychiatric burn nurse clinician at Cook County Hospital’s Sumner L. Koch Burn Center in Chicago, Mieszala has earned national and international recognition for her tireless commitment to reducing burn injuries and juvenile-related fires through public awareness, education and intervention programs.

A long-standing member of the American Burn Association, Mieszala served on the ABA Board of Directors in the late 1970’s. Working with Dr. Anne Phillips and others, she was instrumental in moving the organization to include prevention in their overall mission. Mieszala served as a charter member of the coalition that successfully lobbied Congress and established the first week in February as National Burn Awareness Week. 2009 marked the 24th anniversary of the effort to reduce burn injury through a concerted public awareness and education campaign.

“Pat Mieszala has devoted her career to helping fire and life safety educators across North America protect children, older adults, and people of all ages and abilities from fires and burns through the power of education and action,” said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “Especially as we mark Dr. Phillips’ recent passing, I am honored, through this award, to recognize how Pat’s distinguished contributions to our field deepen and extend Anne Phillips’ inspiring legacy.”

Mieszala is passionate about improving methods to identify and treat youth who set fires. For more than 20 years, she has managed juvenile firesetting and arson prevention grants and contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Academy. Mieszala was one of the original authors of the FEMA/USFA Juvenile Firesetter Handbooks and has produced child firesetter and juvenile arson instructor training packages through a grant from the FEMA National Arson Prevention Initiative.

She also worked with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to develop and oversee the nationwide implementation of the Learn Not to Burn ® elementary and middle school curricula and continued as a contract NFPA Field Advisor for the Risk Watch® Injury Prevention and Natural Disasters school curriculum. For the past ten years and continuing today, Pat works with communities and states that use the Risk Watch program as part of their ongoing fire and injury prevention efforts at the local and state level.

Currently, Mieszala travels throughout the United States and Canada as a public education advisor for NFPA and assists in implementing the Association’s public education programs on disaster preparedness and fire, fall and injury prevention. For the past nine years, Mieszala has served on the NFPA Education Section’s Board of Directors and has been an active participant in the NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee since its inception in 2004.

About the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award
Named after Dr. Anne Wight Phillips, the award honors Dr. Phillips’ outstanding achievements as a champion of fire safety education and celebrates her role as a leader whose exemplary work in fire safety education has had a lasting impact on the nation's safety. As a member of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, Phillips authored the 1973 Minority Report as an appendix to the Commission’s landmark report, America Burning, pushing the Commission to recognize the important role of prevention in reducing fire injury and death. Throughout her life, Dr. Phillips demonstrated an unwavering dedication to fire prevention and preparedness, as the basis to strengthening fire safety education across the country. Having established the award in her honor in 2007, the Home Safety Council aims to keep the example and spirit of Dr. Phillips alive well beyond her passing in 2009 by celebrating those whose own work has made a meaningful contribution to protecting society from unwanted fire.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

USFA Announces Arson Awareness Week Theme for 2009

EMMITSBURG, MD - The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces the theme for the 2009 Arson Awareness Week: "Arson for Profit". USFA and its partners will use the week of May 3rd to the 9th to focus public attention on the alarming statistics about Arson for Profit and hopes to expand the resources and support necessary to reduce this crime.

Arson for Profit, or economic arson, is when businesses or individuals set fires to reduce financial loss, recoup initial investments, or dispose of depreciated assets usually for a payout from insurance companies. The USFA is partnering with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI).

"Each year firefighters and innocent civilians are needlessly put in danger, injured and killed as a result of arson fires," said Glenn A. Gaines, Acting United States Fire Administrator. "We are pleased to partner with the law enforcement community on efforts to reduce the crime of arson."

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2005 an estimated 323,900 intentional fires reported to U.S. fire departments resulted in 490 civilian fire deaths, 3 firefighter onduty deaths, 1,500 civilian fire injuries, 7,600 firefighter onduty injuries and $1.102 billion in direct property damage.

"Arson is a costly crime that's being fanned by the flames of recession. Firefighters and innocent families are endangered when desperate people illegally torch their homes, businesses and cars for insurance bailouts," according to Dennis Jay, Executive Director, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. "Arson also is raising insurance premiums at a time of great stress on honest people's pocketbooks. All Americans are victims of arson, and we all must work to ensure fewer arson matches are ever lit."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2007 Uniform Crime Reporting statistics showed the average dollar loss for all types of arson was $17,289. For structures, arson damages were $32,364 on average and $7,890 for motor vehicles. Arsons of industrial and manufacturing structures resulted in the highest average dollar losses--an average of $114,699 per arson.

"Arson is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. When the arsonist unleashes fire, he does so with a callous disregard for what the outcome will be. He cares not a whit about the firefighters that will risk their lives responding to the fire, the innocent victims that may be disfigured or killed, the neighboring residents or businesses that may suffer damage or destruction, the blight his deeds will leave on a community or the financial costs that burned property imposes on society," said Ken Finley, IAAI-CFI, President, International Association of Arson Investigators. "Please join us in our never ending fight against those who use fire as a vicious tool for their own gain."

The USFA's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) states the two leading causes of civilian deaths are arson, at 28 percent, and smoking, at 18 percent. Arson is, by far, the leading cause of property loss, at 26 percent. Arson is an enormous problem in the United States, especially to outside and nonresidential structure properties.

David M. Wulf, Chief of the ATF's National Center for Explosives Training and Research adds, "In view of the economy and uncertainty within the housing market, arson for profit presents an increased concern to both fire service and law-enforcement agencies."

For more information, including a media kit for the 2009 Arson Awareness Week campaign, go to