Fire Marshall stresses heating safety
Ryan Summerlin February 12, 2013
Heaters are a hot topic. The number of fires caused by heating appliances each winter is a constant problem.
Park City Fire District Fire Marshall Scott Adams says they see at least one or two fires a month caused by electric heaters.
Fortunately, he added, many owners are able to control the fires before they get too large.
"People should take precautions that when the temperature drops, they don’t put their space heaters close to the couch, draperies or clothes they just washed," he said. "The nice thing about the newer ones is that if you tip them over, they have a device that senses it so they shut off."
The Fire District also recommends residents purchase space heaters only from nationally recognized companies and to plug them directly into an outlet and not into an extension cord or power strip. It’s also recommended they remain unplugged when not in use. Additionally, residents should refrain from drying clothes on space heaters or from placing any objects on them.
According to the Fire District, 18,300 Americans receive fire-related injuries every year, and 3,500 die from fire. Those living in rural areas are twice as likely to die in a fire than those living in cities or the suburbs.
"And a lot of that is attributed to wood burning stoves," Adams said.
Wood stoves cause 4,000 fires a year nationally.
Adams cautioned people from over-stoking the fire on wood burning stoves by putting in too much wood or accelerant.
"It can cause fires by making it too hot," he said.
As with space heaters, the Fire District recommends residents purchase quality wood stoves with solid construction and no cracks. Residents should only use seasoned wood for fuel; not trash, recently cut wood or artificial logs.
Kerosene heaters should be used in a well-ventilated room, and be filled with only clear K-1 kerosene, and not with gasoline or camp stove fuel, which flare up easily. Kerosene heaters should be refueled outside when cool.
Fireplaces should be cleaned out frequently from built-up creosote, a combustible material resulting from wood smoke. Trash, paper and recently cut wood should not be used because of the heavy creosote buildup and the difficulty in controlling the flame.
Adams recommends residents regularly check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
"And if they don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, they should get one, because this is the time of year when we can get the ‘incomplete combustion,’" he said.
Incomplete combustion is when a fuel does not have enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water. It will instead produce toxic gases such as carbon monoxide.
"Just be safe and use precautions," Adams said.