MCFRS News Release
One of the Busiest Times of the Year for Fire Fighters
Check Home and Business Heating Systems
As cold temperatures again begin to embrace the Metro area this weekend, the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offer some safety tips. During the winter months, which are typically the busiest time of the year for firefighters, home heating systems, heating equipment (including fireplaces) and associated electrical systems continue to be significant factor in structural fires in Montgomery County. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips and information can help you maintain a fire safe home and business this winter.
- Be sure your furnace/heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Inspect electrical systems for overloads.
- Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel such as kerosene, coal or propane, for (example) produces deadly fumes.
- Keep young children safely away from space heaters - especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
Give space heaters space!
WOOD STOVES AND FIREPLACES
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes, especially with the rising cost of home heating fuel. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. To use them safely:
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container (with a tight lid) outside and well away from the house.
- Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36") from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
- Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
- Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
- Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of bums to occupants. The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
- Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and more than likely force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
- If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
It's important that you have your furnace inspected to insure that it is in good working condition.
- Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition. Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
- Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
- Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
- Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
- Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
OTHER IMPORTANT FIRE SAFETY TIPS:
- Remember never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container with a tight lid outside and well away from the house or anything else that can burn.
- Never use a gas range or an oven as a supplementary heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
- If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. If you must use an extension cord, only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.
- Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
- Have an escape plan. Know two ways out of every room.
Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, have an escape plan - get out - stay out!