Fire Department FAQ

ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE

Q?

Should I have a carbon monoxide detector in my home?
A.

Any single family dwelling heated by a forced air furnace or boiler that burns fossil fuels have a CO detector in close proximity to all sleeping areas. Follow manufacturers recommendations for detailed installation guidelines.

Any multiple family dwelling or apartment/ condominium building heated by a forced air furnace or boiler that burns fossil fuels should have a CO detector installed in the room containing the central heating unit. Individual units that contain their own warm heating plant should have a CO detector located in close proximity to all sleeping areas. Follow manufacturer's recommendations for detailed installation guidelines.

Q?
What is Carbon Monoxide?
A.
Carbon Moxoxide (CO) is an oderless, colorless gas produced by burning fossil fuels (fossil fuels include natural gas, coal, kerosene, oil, propane and wood etc). Exposure to low levels of CO over several hours can be just as dangerous as exposure to higher levels for a few minutes.
Q?
Who is most at risk?
A.
High risk groups include children, senior citizens, persons with heart or respiratory ailments and pregnant females. The signs and symptoms of CO exposure include headache, fatigue, nausea & vomiting, dizziness and difficulty breathing. If prolonged exposure continues, loss of consciousness, coma and ultimately death will occur.
Q?
What should I do if my CO detector goes off?
A.
If no one in the home is showing any signs or symptoms of CO poisoning, turn off fuel burning appliances, ventilate the house and contact the fire department. If occupants are complaining about any of the above mentioned signs or symptoms get out of the house and call 9-1-1. Do not re-enter the residence until the residence has been cleared by the fire department. When in doubt always call 9-1-1.

SMOKE DETECTORS AND FIRES IN THE HOME

Q?
What type of smoke detector should I buy?
A.
There are two types of smoke detectors, ionization and photoelectric. Both detectors are equally effective, most important is that the unit “listed” or approved by major testing lab such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Q?
Where should I install a smoke detector?
A.

Smoke rises, so the best place to install a detector is on the ceiling or high on an inside wall just below the ceiling. All brands have detailed installation/placement instructions. Always follow manufacturer’s guidelines.

In multi-level residence, a smoke detector should be installed on every level. A detector is recommended within 15 feet of every sleeping room as well as inside every sleeping room. Again, follow the directions that come with your smoke detector.

Q?
How do I care for my smoke detector?
A.
The most important maintenance issue with battery-operated smoke detectors is to change the batteries twice per year. It is recommended that battery changes coincide with the daylight savings time changes in the spring and the fall. Detectors can be affected by dirt, dust and cooking exhaust. Locate detectors away from air vents, air conditioners and fans. Keep the grillwork free from dust by occasionally vacuuming. Never paint a smoke detector. A monthly test is always recommended. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for other maintenance recommendations.
Q?
How do I develop a home escape plan?
A.

Sit down with all members of the family and discuss escape routes to the outside from each room in the residence. Family members should identify a “meeting place” in front of the residence to all members can be accounted for after escape. Whatever plan you develop, it should be practiced.

Most fatal home fires occur at night while everyone is sleeping. Doors to sleeping rooms should be kept shut. If fire strikes, the closed door will protect occupants from both fire and smoke. If you find smoke seeping under the door of your room, DON’T PANIC! Feel the door. If the door is hot use an alternate escape route of go to the nearest window. Make noise to alert others in the residence as well as neighbors. Stay by the window until help arrives. If the door is cool, open the door carefully. If there is smoke in the hallway, close the door and head for the window or alternate escape route. If there is light smoke and no visible flame, stay low and exit the residence quickly alerting others as you head for the door. Once outside the residence, go to the pre-determined meeting place or go to a neighbor's house to call 9-1-1.

Q?
What are some of the most common causes of house fires?
A.
Kitchen fires account for most fires in private residences. The most common cause is unattended cooking on the stove top especially grease laden foods. If you get called away from the kitchen while cooking, turn off the burners. Hot pans or skillets should have the handles turned toward the center of the stove to avoid accidental tipping. Don’t leave towels or napkins near the stove. If a grease fire ignites on the stovetop simply place a lid over the skillet to smother the flames and turn off the burner. If the fire intensifies, leave the residence and call 9-1-1 immediately.
Q?
Should I have a fire extinguisher?
A.

Yes, an ABC rated fire extinguisher can be used for all fires. Fire extinguishers are designed for small fires in a confined space by persons who have read the directions earlier. Familiarize yourself with the fire extinguishers operation before it is installed in the residence.

Your first action when any fire occurs is to call the fire department and make sure everyone is safely evacuated from the residence. If you think you have time to use the fire extinguisher, make sure you are between the fire and an escape route as the chemical extinguishing agent will make visibility and breathing difficult. Never attempt to extinguish a large or rapidly growing fire, fight fires without an escape route, fight fires in a smoke filled environment. Always assume the fire is never completely extinguished, CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR ANY FIRE IN THE RESIDENCE!

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

Q?
What can I do to make my home heating system safer?
A.
  • Make sure all furnace controls and emergency shut-offs are in good condition and accessible.
  • Have your furnace inspected annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep trash and combustible materials away from the furnace.
  • Inspect the chimney and flue for cracks or holes.
  • Follow manufacturer's guidelines for other maintenance recommendations.
Q?
Are space heaters safe?
A.

While space heaters are legal and widely used, the Fire Department does not recommend their use because they can pose certain hazards. Before using a space heater always make sure you have a functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Never use a fuel-burning appliance without proper ventilation. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal or propane) produces deadly fumes. Be certain that the space heater is in good working condition. Store any fuels outside the home at all times. Maintain adequate clearance in all directions around the space heater. Never leave children home alone when a space heater is being used in the residence. If you use an electric heater, make sure your home electrical system can handle the load on the circuit where the heater is being used. Never cover the electric cord with a rug or carpet. Avoid using electric space heaters in the bathroom. Turn off all space heaters before going to bed.

Use only safety listed space heaters that are labeled with the U.L. or A.G.A. certification. Read all directions before using space heaters and follow manufacturers guidelines.

Q?
What about fireplaces?
A.
A fireplace can be a safe and effective way to provide additional heat during the winter months. All fireplaces should have a metal screen in front to prevent burns and prevent flying embers from the hearth. Keep flammable materials away from all fireplaces. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire. Excessive use of paper products in a wood burning stove can be dangerous. Man-made starter logs can be used but should never be broken up to quicken the fire. Check the flue or preferably have a professional check the chimney every year. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.
Q?
Is it safe to heat the kitchen with my stove?
A.
Never! An open oven can be the source of serious burns. Furthermore any un-vented fuel-burning appliance can produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide.