Name That Trauma :: Reader JLP on a Fire Saftey Short

Trying to find the name of a fire safety film that scared the crap out of me in the ‘70s.

When I was about 13, around 1977, they put us in the school auditorium and showed us a fire safety filmed that haunted me for years.

Here’s the setup: there’s a family of 4, Mom, Dad, and two red-haired kids, one boy and one girl. You spend the first part of the movie following them through the nice summer day: the dad goes and sits in an office, the mom cleans things and maybe goes shopping, and the kids walk over to some pond and go fishing. The narrator remarks on what a lovely day it’s been.

Then, after dinner, the dad is sitting on the couch smoking and drops some ash behind the couch. Then in the middle of the night the couch catches on fire, and then the house, and everyone dies. The son dies because he’s sleeping in the top bunk and smoke inhalation gets him without him waking up. The daughter wakes up, but tries to leave by the bedroom door instead of the window and the smoke gets her. The mom dies because she tries to get the kids instead of leaving the house. I forget how the dad dies.

Pretty horrible, huh? Thank goodness home smoke detectors came out around then or I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep for years. I have Googled around for old fire safety films but nothing seems to match. I don’t think it looked particularly dated when I saw it, but it could have been filmed in the ‘60s and I probably wouldn’t have noticed in ’77. It was definitely in color.

Any ideas?


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13 years ago

This sounds like “Another Man’s Family.” I couldn’t find the video online, but it’s in this collection from the fine folks at Something Weird video…

13 years ago

That sounds very very promising — thank you!

11 years ago

I couldn’t begin to tell you the name, but I’m pretty sure I saw the same film strip in elementary school back in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

The showed all sorts of dreadful safety films back then – we saw the “Duck and Cover” nuclear attack films, fire safety, traffic safety, “don’t talk to strangers”, and others – all kindertrauma in their own right.

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s and 1980’s, everything was going to kill you – life was an anxious paranoid death trap waiting to ensnare us at every moment we dared breath a sigh of relief and relax for an instant.

Might have been the same or a different fire safety film strip, but I do vividly remember a boy in a basement or garage putting a bunch of model airplane parts in a tray of volatile chemicals (paint thinner or varnish stripper or something, I assume), leaving it when his mother called dinner, and the chemicals spontaneously combusted with tragic results.

And, possibly in the same or a different filmstrip, there was the terror of oil-soaked spontaneously combusting rags, stuffed into barrels under the basement stairs. I remember thinking that clothing styles and everything in the film strip looked dated at the time, and the film strips themselves looked like they’d seen better days, and I’m wanting to say that maybe these fire-safety film strips were filmed in the 1960’s.

Tom P.
Tom P.
4 years ago

Here is some additional information to make that film easier to locate:

It can be found on YouTube under the title “Fire Prevention and the Home” or “Fire Prevention and the Home (1967)”. Both are from Prelinger Archives of San Francisco.