MCFRS News Release

SIMPLE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID A SHOCKING HOLIDAY SURPRISE

Fire Inspectors have discovered a number of potentially dangerous appliances being sold

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Dec. 6, 2007 - Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Consumer Affairs would like to provide a reminder when shopping for electrical appliances this holiday season. Please take a few extra moments to locate the label from Underwriters Laboratories. If you see this label, then you know that your purchase has been tested and approved.

If the product you wish to purchase does not have the four elements shown above or only references UL on the carton or product itself, but has no company name or trademark it may not be approved. Packages with the letters "UL" side-by-side instead of staggered or the word "Approved" instead of "LISTED" or "CLASSIFIED," are all indications that the product may not be approved. For more information regarding general electrical safety during the holidays, please visit: http://www.ul.com/seasonal/opdec/light.html.

If you discover electrical products that are not properly labeled, please call the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection at (240) 777-3636 or Montgomery County Fire Code Enforcement at (240) 777-2457.

Fire Inspectors assigned to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Fire Code Enforcement Section have been inspecting public assembly and retail occupancies throughout Montgomery County, Maryland. Several significant recent events across the United States illustrate some of the potential dangers associated with over crowding, flammable and combustible decorative interiors, as well as blocked exits. Montgomery County Fire Inspectors conduct special enforcement efforts during the holidays and at other special seasonal events. During some of these visits, Fire Inspectors have discovered a number of potentially dangerous appliances (not UL Listed) being sold at local stores throughout the County.

In the next several weeks specially assigned Fire Inspectors will inspect many public assembly occupancies, such as restaurants, nightclubs, bars and particularly retail stores.

Generally, the most common safety issues of concern are restaurant kitchen fire extinguishing systems needing service or upgrade, fire alarm systems needing maintenance, emergency lighting needing service or maintenance and fire sprinkler systems overdue for service, blocked exits and storage. During this busy shopping period lack of adequate storage areas often produces many potential life safety hazards.

There have been a few instances of over crowding, a moderate number of locked or blocked exits and inappropriate storage in some cases blocking isles. Several electrical problems and exit marking were also detected.

E - Exits, unlocked, not blocked and proper signage;
S - Storage, clean, orderly and not excessive;
C - Capacity, does not exceed number on use and occupancy certificate, posted in a conspicuous location;
A - Access/Aisles, keep aisles free and clear at all times, provide 6-inch high address numbers that are easily visible from the street;
P - Protection, smoke detection, fire alarm and automatic sprinkler systems are in proper working order and tested regularly;
E - Emergency Lighting, working properly and tested every 30 days. Prior to and during the inspection, occupants/operators are provided with information concerning the focus of each inspection.