Prevention 52 fire helmet
June 2012



1) If you are a seasonal employee, ask your supervisors if the smoke detectors have been recently checked. 


2) Supervisors: DO NOT allow your seasonal employees to live in buildings that do not have adequate smoke detection. Check the smoke detectors yourself as soon as you can.


3) People who sleep in a building with which they are unfamiliar may have trouble getting out in an emergency. It is essential that supervisors run drills at the beginning of the season. Make them unannounced and conduct them at different times of day.

NPS Fire Facts

On the evening of April 6, 2008, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area had a near miss when one of their concessions dormitories caught fire.


For a breakdown of the incident and the story of the heroic efforts by park firefighters to save a trapped concessions employee, view this PowerPoint presentation.

What is Prevention 52?


Its intent is to educate and empower all NPS employees to help prevent structure fires.


It is a relevant fire prevention message every week of the year...

52 to be exact!


The Structural Fire Program has put together many resources to help you provide an effective fire prevention program in your park. Visit our web site at :
For more fire prevention resources go to:


Previous P52 messages can be accessed at:

Prevention 52


Submit your ideas and feedback about Prevention 52 at:


P52 Editor: Kathy Komatz


Structural Fire is one of six branches within the NPS Division of Fire and Aviation Management. Join us at: to learn more.

Quiz: What do authors Nevada Barr and Edward Abbey have in common with over 10,000 seasonal employees in the NPS?

Seasonal Housing

By Brian Johnson, Structural Fire Prevention Program Manager   


One of the National Park Service's more famous seasonal employees Edward Abbey wrote about Big Bend in his book One Life at a Time, Please.

Half the pleasure of a visit to Big Bend National Park, as in certain other affairs, lies in the advance upon the object of our desire. Coming toward the park from the village of Lajitas deep in west Texas, we see this rampart of volcanic cliffs rising a mile above the surrounding desert. Like a castled fortification of Wagnerian gods, the Chisos Mountains stand alone in the morning haze, isolated and formidable, unconnected with other mountains, remote from any major range. Crowned with a forest of juniper, piņon pine, oak, madrone, and other trees the Chisos rise like an island of greenery and life in the midst of the barren, sun-blasted, apparently lifeless, stone-bleak ocean of the Chihuahuan Desert. An emerald isle in a red sea.


So where do you get to spend your summer? Seasonal employment with the National Park Service is a great way to hone skills, seek adventure, and earn some money during the summer. But this publication is not about adventure, it's about protecting our employees, visitors, partners and resources from structural fire. So what does Prevention 52 have to do with seasonal employees?


Many seasonal employees live in dormitories or other group housing situations. Many housing units have been unoccupied since last season. We know from doing assessments in the parks that way too many buildings where people sleep have inadequate or no smoke detection devices. Our first concern should be to ensure that no employee sleeps in a building that is not equipped with smoke detection.


Other things to consider for your seasonal employees:

  • Seasonal employees are likely unfamiliar with evacuation procedures for the workplace and living accommodations. At a minimum, supervisors should ensure they run fire drills at the beginning of every season.
  • Seasonal employees are not likely to have had fire extinguisher training. Ensure each employee is allotted the time to go to DOI Learn and take the NPS fire extinguisher education class.

Quiz Answer: Both of these authors worked as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service!

Author Edward Abbey wrote about his experiences as a seasonal park ranger in southeastern Utah in the book Desert Solitaire, published in 1968.

Author Nevada Barr has written 17 fictional novels that take place in national parks. She worked as a ranger in many of these park locales.


Take our fire extinguisher class on DOI Learn.


Park Leadership

Have you had a Fire Protection Condition Assessment (FPCA) at your park?  If not, contact your regional structural fire manager  to find out how your park can get one.  FPCAs show that over 10% of buildings where people sleep in the national parks do not have smoke detection installed.  Does that statistic include your park? 


Superintendents should ask that all buildings in their park where people sleep be checked for working smoke detection.  Take action if they are missing or inadequate.  Place work orders and funding requests for the long term, but have smoke detectors installed immediately.  NO NPS EMPLOYEE, CONCESSIONS EMPLOYEE, PARTNER, OR VISITOR should ever sleep in a building without smoke detection.


Regional directors, housing managers, and commercial services managers

We have the data. We know the national parks have way too many employees, visitors, and partners sleeping in buildings that do not have adequate smoke detection.  Work within your parks and organizations to ensure that not 1 person sleeps in an NPS owned building without smoke detection. 


You have an opportunity every week to make a difference! Don't let historic ashes be your legacy...
Prevention 52 begins with you!




NPS Branch of Structural Fire