Fire Fighting in Canada

Features Codes and standards Prevention
NFPA Impact: Fire Prevention Week goes back to basics

August 25, 2023 
By Laura King

Laura King

Fire prevention has come a long way in 101 years. Codes and standards are specific and widely adopted, and public education has been embraced as the first line of defence. There are fewer home fires than there used to be, but those that do occur are more deadly. Therein lies the problem.

In Canada, this was evident in the numbers of fatalities in Ontario in 2022, the worst year on record with 133 people having died in home fires.

We know from science and data that occupants have less than two minutes to find their way through chaos, heat, and smoke after the alarm sounds – if the alarm sounds.

And we know the leading cause of home fires in Canada is cooking, specifically unattended cooking, which not only includes distractions such as kids, pets, television and TikTok, but also falling asleep after consuming alcohol or drugs.


Which leads us to the 2023 Fire Prevention Week theme: Cooking safety starts with YOU! Pay attention to fire prevention.™

The last two themes – Fire wont’ wait. Plan your escape.™ in 2022, and Learn the sounds of fire safety.™ in 2021 – focused attention on things that happen after a fire starts. This year, given the data, the NFPA has pivoted back to preventing the most common fires, — those that start in the kitchen and are the result of human behaviour and/or lack of knowledge. 

As is always the case with the Fire Prevention Week theme, it’s critical that the supporting messages be data driven, actionable (people can do something), and universal, or applicable to all demographics.

There are three key messages, or calls to action, for Fire Prevention Week 2023 (although No. 1 really comprises two messages): 

  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide a lid over the pan and turn off the burner.
  • Watch what you heat. Set a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Have a kid-free zone of at least one metre around the stove and areas where hot food is prepared or carried.

The messages are not new, rather they’ve been consistently disseminated and used for years. They originated in the NFPA’s Educational Messaging Desk Reference (visit / public education / educational messaging).

You can also find the Fire Prevention Week messages in our toolkit at (or, which includes social media cards, safety tip sheets, activities for kids and adults, and the theme logos for use on your websites. Other messages for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, include: 

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and deaths. Stand by your pan. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the burner.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove.
  • When your grill is in use, it should be kept in an open space, away from anything that might catch fire, including siding, deck railings, eaves, or tree branches. Never leave a lit grill unattended.
  • Open microwaved food slowly, away from the face. 
  • Keep the stovetop, oven, and burners clean. 

Of course, we’ve maintained our popular “Be like Bill” messaging: Bill keeps the grill away from play areas or places with high foot traffic. Be like Bill! All social media cards include the tagline “Learn more about cooking safety at” You (or your corporate communications team) can download the social cards for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and other materials from, a one-stop resource centre for fire departments and other organizations such as schools, daycares, and community groups planning FPW activities or events, virtually or in person.

Note that French-language social media cards, and other resources, are available at on the Toolkit page – click the red button under FPW Toolkit. There are two key tabs at the top of the FPW website: About, and Toolkit. The About section features NFPA’s “I Spy Cooking Safety” video (it’s also on NFPA’s YouTube Kids channel for easy viewing in classrooms or other settings with Internet access) – and our history of FPW video — a must-see! In addition to all the free-to-download materials at, Fire Prevention Week kits can be purchased from,, and, in Ontario, Note that French kits are available only from

Watch for NFPA’s FPW social media posts and be sure to use the hashtag #FirePreventionWeek. Follow @sparky_fire_dog and @LauraKingNFPA.

Laura King is NFPA regional director for Canada. Contact her at 

Print this page


Stories continue below