Fire 2020

National Multicultural Community Fire Prevention Study

“Fire 20/20 has done some amazing work in linking the issues of a growing multicultural society in the U.S. and effective prevention programs,” said Jim Crawford, Project Manager of Vision 20/20. “This report is important reading to increase the understanding of these issues at the national, regional, state and local levels.  There is information in here for policy makers and the fire and life safety community at all levels.”

What We Learned

FIRE 20/20's research identified the biggest challenges reported most often by departments included:

  • Language barriers (62.2%)

  • Community’s lack of knowledge about basic life safety and fire prevention (50.4%)

  • Community’s lack of knowledge about fire department services (48.1%),

  • Fire departments not understanding cultural practices and how they impact service delivery (24.8%)

Respondents reported that they needed additional knowledge, resources and support in the following areas:

  • Greater community knowledge about fire prevention (49.6%)

  • Greater community knowledge of fire department services (45.2%);

  • Multilingual skills (44.4%),

  • Additional resources to develop and implement programs (43.3%)

FIRE 20/20 releases the first National Multicultural Community Fire Prevention Study.


The study is based on responses from 2,474 career, combination and volunteer fire departments from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and 29 State Fire Marshal offices. It validates FIRE 20/20’s 2006-2007 Multicultural Health and Safety Research Project Study (MSHRP) conducted in Seattle, Austin, Milwaukee and Calgary. Findings from the MSHRP identified that language barriers, trust issues, multicultural knowledge gaps and lack of positive proactive relationships are key factors impacting firefighter and civilian safety in multicultural communities.


The survey addressed three primary areas:

  • Identification of different multicultural and high-risk populations served by departments.

  • Challenges fire departments experience in providing prevention services to multicultural and high-risk communities.

  • Specific needs that would improve fire prevention and community risk-reduction effectiveness in multicultural and high-risk communities.


Departments reported the multicultural communities most often served included Hispanic (66.5%); African-American (56.9%); Disabled (55.5%); Homeless (31%); Native American (23.2%); Chinese (20.5%); South Asian (19%); Vietnamese (17.8%); Korean (17.5%), and Muslim (17.2%).


“The FIRE 20/20 data gives us a national perspective on the growing challenges we're facing providing effective prevention programs in multicultural communities,” said Steve Peavey, International Association of Fire Marshals First Vice President.  “The comprehensive report will be a valuable resource for strategic fire prevention planning in volunteer, combination and career departments.”


FIRE 20/20 developed the online study and worked in partnership with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA), Vision 20/20, National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the Volunteer and Combination Officers Committee (VCOS) to distribute and collect information about fire prevention challenges in multicultural communities.  Request a free copy of the report


Funding for the National Multicultural Community Fire Prevention Study was provided through sponsorships and grants from PBI Performance Products Inc., LION, Scott Safety, TenCate, AMKUS Rescue Systems, Cigna Insurance, and ANSUN.  In kind sponsors included Citrix Online, and SurveyGizmo.