Igniting interest in prevention: Using firefighter focus groups to inform implementation and enhancement of an Urban canvassing program

Shannon Frattaroli, Eileen M. McDonald, Nhan T. Tran, Alison R. Trump, Raymond C. O'Brocki, Andrea C. Gielen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Context: Smoke alarm canvassing is recognized as an empirically based, effective intervention for increasing access to and the presence of smoke alarms in homes. Objectives: We sought to inform the implementation of an intervention designed to enhance an existing fire department smoke alarm canvassing program through an empirically grounded, participatory process. Design: We conducted a series of focus groups with fire union leaders and firefighters involved with the canvassing program in 1 US city, shared the results with the participants, and presented the resulting recommendations to fire department leadership. Setting: This research occurred in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants: Focus group participants included firefighters who participate in the Fire Department's smoke alarm canvassing program and representatives from the local firefighters' union. Main Outcome Measures: The focus groups sought to capture firefighters' experiences with and opinions about the canvassing program and how to improve it as well as challenges to canvassing work. Results: We conducted 10 focus groups with 65 participants. Firefighters' perspectives on the canvassing program and their recommendations for improving it were expressed through 3 categories of themes concerning program management, canvassing challenges, and attitudes about the program and the community. We also discuss the process of presenting these findings and recommendations to the participants and the fire department leadership, and describe how implementation of some of the recommendations has progressed. Conclusions: Both the process and outcomes of this formative work inform how to develop and implement community-based public health interventions in real-world settings through academic-community partnerships. The findings also have implications for how canvassing programs are being implemented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-389
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • fire prevention
  • partnered research
  • qualitative research methods
  • smoke alarm canvassing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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