Fire Prevention

WINTER FIRES -

Our department recently responded to a fire as a result of what appears to have been the malfunctioning of a furnace motor. This should be a reminder to all residents to have your furnace inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season.


Please click here for a printable pamphlet in PDF format regarding Safety Tips for Homes with respect to Winter Fires.

BARBECUE SAFETY REMINDERS -

 

Our small, 1 square mile town has seen its fair share of barbecue-related fires (charcoal and propane).  The adjacent photo was taken at the Shady Lane fire in July 2008, which was caused by a propane leak from a gas grill.

 

Barbecue season is now back in full swing, so this is a good time to remind everyone to practice safe grilling habits.  In May 2010, the United States Fire Administration ("USFA") released a report advising that an estimated 5,700 grill fires on residential properties occur annually in the U.S., resulting in an estimated average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries, and 37 million dollars in property loss.  Over half of grill fires on residential properties occur in the four months of May, June, July and August, and almost half of these fires occur during the hours of 5pm - 8pm.  In addition, 32% of grill fires on residential properties start on patios, terraces, screened-in porches or courtyards, while an additional 24% start on exterior balconies and unenclosed porches.  Finally, propane is the power source in 69% of these fires. 

 

Please make sure that you retain the instructions that came with your barbecue at the time it was purchased.  Review them each season to make sure that you are operating it correctly.  The following are some additional safety tips from the USFA:

 

- Position your grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches;

- Place your grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic;

- Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a "kid-free zone" around the grill;

- Put out several long-handled grill tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food;

- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so that it cannot be ignited by the heat of the grill; and

- Use only outdoors!!!  If used indoors, or in any enclosed space, barbecue grills pose a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

 

Specifically, with regard to propane grills, please be sure to consider the following:

 

- Check the propane tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.  A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles;

- If you determine that your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test, turn off the propane tank and grill.  If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.  If the leak does not stop, call the fire department;

- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.  Do not attempt to move the grill;

- All propane tanks manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices ("OPD").  OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the tank heats up.  OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel;

- Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it; and

- Never store propane tanks in buildings or garages.  If you do store a gas grill inside for the winter, disconnect the tank and leave it outside.

ROUTINELY INSPECT POWER STRIPS AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE NOT OVERLOADED!!!

 

Fanwood firefighters responded to a report of smoke filling a residence on Shady Lane during the late evening hours on 3/31/10.  The culprit was determined to be a power strip (see photo) that overheated and began to melt.  Luckily, there was no damage to the home and no one was injured.  However, this warrants a reminder to our residents.

 

Every year, thousands of fires result from surge protectors, power strips and electrical cords.  Use only surge protectors or power strips that have an internal circuit breaker.  These units should trip the breaker if the power strip is overloaded or shorted to prevent overheating.  If at any time a surge protector or power strip is hot to the touch, remove and replace the unit.

 

Surge protectors, power strips or extension cords are NOT a substitute for permanent wiring!!!  Also, do not plug theses devices into an existing surge protector, power strip or extension cord!!!  For more information, go online and research surge protector and power strip safety.

RECOMMENDED SUMP PUMP MAINTENANCE -

 

Now that the recent storms have passed, it is a good time to check your sump pumps !!!

 

The sump pump removes accumulated water from a sump pit.  They are usually installed in the basement where a majority of flooding can occur.  Sump pumps are also used to decrease dampness by lowering the water table under a foundation.  They send water away from a house to any place where it is no longer problematic.

 

Sump pumps must be maintained.  Typical recommendations suggest examining equipment every year, but pumps running frequently due to a higher water table, poor water drainage, or harsher weather conditions should be examined more frequently.  Sump pumps, being highly mechanical, will fail eventually, which could lead to a flooded basement requiring costly repairs.

 

When examining a sump pump and cleaning it, dirt, gravel, sand, and other debris should be removed to increase efficiency and extend the life of the pump.  These obstructions can also decrease the pump's ability to drain the sump and allow the sump to overflow.  The check valve can also jam from the debris.

 

As they say, "April showers bring May flowers."  With April quickly approaching, take the time now to make sure your sump pump is in proper working order.

SMOKE ALARM & CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS -

 

Replace smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries annually, and test your alarms monthly.  A good time to remember to replace batteries is when turning your clocks ahead for daylight saving time.  

 

The most common reasons why alarms do not work are missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.  Residents need to make sure that they have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors!!

more to come....