Chief stresses fire safety
As the temperature drops and more people are heating their homes, fires become more commonplace. Washington Fire Chief Tom Wide offers some safety tips to ensure that heat sources don’t cause an unwanted fire.
Wide said that wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, space heaters, and even furnaces can all be fire hazards if used improperly. He said that he doesn’t know how much more frequent fires are during the winter as opposed to other times, but said that firefighters notice a marked increase in the number of fire calls.
“Fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces all should be inspected and serviced,” Wide said. ‘Make sure you have batteries in the smoke detectors and the carbon monoxide detectors. If a smoke detector is more than 5 years old, you should replace it with a new one.”
He also asked people who shovel their driveways during the winter to also shovel out fire hydrants in front of their house. He said this will give firefighters easier access as well as allowing them to see it.
Wide discussed a fire that happened on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at a residence in the 600 block of East Main Street in Washington. The people at the residence reported a lot of smoke coming from the fireplace. On arrival, firefighters found a fire had broken out inside the walls of the residence. While firefighters caught the fire before it spread very far, he said the situation could have been much worse.
Some problems the fire department sees as causes for fires include poor — or no — maintenance to the heating units, Wide said. He also said that age can cause accidents. In some cases cracks in piping can let heat out where it shouldn’t be, causing a fire. He recommends people have their furnaces and other items used for heating checked out by a maintenance person. He recommends these be serviced once a year.
Wide also said that carbon monoxide detectors are important during the winter. He said gas appliances like water heaters can or stoves cause an increase in carbon monoxide in residences if they aren’t properly vented. While some cases are legitimate carbon monoxide levels rising in a residence, Wide said some calls have been for carbon monoxide detectors with batteries running down.
For more, see our Jan. 3 print edition.