Quantcast
Dec 072013
 

th-1The winter holidays are a time of celebration and that means cooking, decorating the home and entertaining. 

The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office offers some safety reminders to ensure that the holidays will be happy for you and your family.

Home fire safety is always a major concern. Decorations should be fire resistant or non-combustible and located a safe distance from heat sources, such as cooking and wood stoves, fireplaces, space heaters or televisions. 

If smoking is permitted in your home, provide a place for smokers to discard their cigarettes. Place all used ashtrays in the sink and wet down the contents to prevent an accidental fire. Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children. And, check all smoke detectors to be sure they are working properly. 

cat-candle-angela_n-smOne of the most common causes of accidental home fires during the holiday season is unattended candles, as December is the peak time of year for candle fires. Candles are often knocked over by children or pets, causing injuries and fires. Before lighting any candle, secure it in a properly fitting holder with a wide base to catch the hot dripping wax and to prevent the candle from tipping over.  

Trim the wick to one-quarter inch. Extinguish taper and pillar candles when the wick is within two inches of the holder. Votives should be put out before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt. Keep candles at least one foot from combustibles on tables, beside window treatments or decorations. 

More than one-half of candle fires began when something flammable was too close to the candle.  After the candle is lit, it must be supervised until properly extinguished. NEVER leave candles burning when leaving a room or going to sleep.  During a power outage, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights. 

thBefore displaying any electrical decoration, be sure it is tested and approved by a testing facility such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (U.L) or Factory Mutual (F.M).  Use only lights designed and approved for the outdoors when creating an exterior display. Check all light cords and plugs for worn-out or exposed wiring. Replace any damaged light strings or decorations with new items.  Do not overload electrical circuits.  Use multi-outlet surge protector power strips when running multiple applications of decorative lights.

Due to the cost of home heating fuel, the use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves for alternative heating sources is at an all time high.  Have the fireplace or wood stove flue inspected and cleaned at least once a year.  Creosote build up is the number one cause of chimney fires.  Check for cracks in the mortar or deterioration of the piping before lighting a fire.  Don’t forget to open the flue.  Make sure that the safety screen or doors are in place to prevent sparks from igniting flammable furnishings or interior finishes. 

smokie-fireplaceNever use lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to start a fire.  Use kindling and paper which is weighed down to prevent it from flying out of the chimney or fireplace.  Once the fire is out, put the cool ashes into a metal container with a lid, outside and well away from the home The container should be placed on a non-combustible surface.  To prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide, keep a window slightly open to allow fresh air to enter the home. Electric heaters should be at least three feet from any combustible materials. The use of kerosene heaters is not recommended. 

Christmas tree safety begins with the selection of a fresh tree that holds its needles. Trim the trunk at least 1-inch above the original cut before placing the tree in a sturdy stand.  For the first watering, fill the stand with hot water to open up the sap channels so the tree can consume water efficiently. Use cool water thereafter. The tree may be kept inside as long as it kpic-120508-burning-christmas-treeremains fresh and moist. When it begins to lose needles and starts to dry, discard the tree.  Make sure artificial trees are labeled as fire retardant. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, near an exit.  DO NOT attempt to extinguish a fully involved tree fire.  Leave the house and call 9-1-1.  Follow these tips for a safe, happy holiday season. 

The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office has a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Program that provides and/or installs 10 year lithium battery alarms and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge to Orange residents.  If you have any questions regarding fire safety or wish to have smoke and/or CO detectors provided and/or installed in your home, please contact our office at (203) 891-4711, Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM or visit the website atwww.orangefiremarshal.com.

Feb 062013
 

As residents continue to clean up after the recent storms, and prepare for the upcoming snow storm, Fire Marshal Tim Smith grows increasingly concerned that people are using fresh storm debris such as logs and branches in their fireplaces and woodstoves.

This unseasoned wood, and any softwoods such as spruce and pine, will contribute to creosote buildup in the fireplace and chimney, resulting in a severe chimney type fire that could extend to the framing of a home.

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department already has responded to a few chimney fires since the cold weather began, luckily none of them has resulted in the loss of a home yet. Yet a heating device was to blame for a house fire that displaced a family a couple of weeks ago.

Smith included a Winter Fire Safety article from FEMA and a link to a video on proper fireplace use.

Here is the Article in its entirety:

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.
Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You!

Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

•    Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.

•    Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.

•   Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.

•    Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.

•    Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.

•    Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.

•    Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

•    Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

Safely Burn Fuels

•    Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

•    Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.

•    Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

•    Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.

•    When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.

•    Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

•    Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Protect the Outside of Your Home

•    Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.

•    Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.

•    Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.

•    Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Protect the Inside of Your Home   

•    Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and     change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.

•    Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.

•    Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.

For more information and safety tips from the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office visit:  www.orangefiremarshal.com

 

Originally Published on: Nov 19, 2012 @ 1:35 p.m.