FIRE AND EMERGENCY
SERVICES INSTRUCTOR 1
October is a great month for one of the most important things that can keep you and your family safe this winter. While the weather is getting colder, but not yet terrible home owners should be checking their fireplaces, Chimney’s and vents for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Many homes in our county rely on older heating sources such as fireplaces, and do not typically see the standard of care that is needed to keep families safe during the winter season.
Our fire district along with many neighboring districts and city’s see an increase of residential fires every year from the failure to maintain chimneys. Residential fires peak in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m. This 4-hour period accounts for 30 percent of all residential heating fires. Of those fires, fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners, account for 87 percent.
Damages from chimney fires can displace families, create problems in household heating and much more even if contained to just the fireplace and localized walls. In other cases, chimney fires can spread to attics, through the walls and create much more damage up to destroying an entire home.
Some visible indications that your chimney or fireplace may be needing some help are
Damp patches on interior walls or exterior walls
Stains on the ceiling
White efflorescence stains on outside of the masonry chimney
Eroded mortar joints
Creosote deposits in the chimney (this will give off a smell or odor)
Buildup of smoke in the home when lighting a fire
So this fall, take that step and ensure your Chimney, and fire place are cleaned and properly prepared for this winter season.
Cooking fires are the leading cause of fire deaths
Fires beginning with cooking appliances account for the largest share of home structure fires and associated fire injuries in the United States and Canada. Electric ranges are by far the leading cause of home cooking appliance fires.
Most home cooking fires involve frying on electric ranges
Range fires were involved in 77% of home structure fire injuries involving cooking equipment and accounted for 84% of all fire deaths involving cooking appliances. Seventy-four percent of range fire injuries involve stovetop cooking, and frying accounted for 59% of range fires.
Unattended cooking is a major cause of range fires
Unattended cooking is a factor in the majority of home electric range fires. Physical conditions such as falling asleep, impairment by alcohol or drugs, or limitations of the cook due to age are all contributing factors. Distractions that pull the cook outside of the kitchen (doorbell, screaming child, social interactions) are another. Due to the nature of these behaviors, public education cannot be the sole means of addressing the cooking fire problem. An engineering solution can make it less likely that those lapses in safe behavior will result in tragedy.