(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/07/2011)
When getting ready to deck your halls, don’t forget about Fire Safety. Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan says that the biggest worry for the FFD comes Christmastime is people who aren’t careful with their decorations.
“Tree fires aren’t that common, but when they happen they are devastating,” Sullivan said. Christmas trees can catch fire if they are allowed to dry out. “Picture where that tree is, usually right in the middle of the living room, the middle of a house. You have a bunch of presents under the tree, and they’re all covered in paper. That’s kindling to a fire. When they go up, they go up quick. A dry tree may as well be pure gasoline with how fast they go up. And when it happens it usually takes the whole house with it.”
It’s a scary thought, but it’s easily preventable. Keeping your Christmas tree well watered, and checking it for signs of dry, dropping needles can help prevent a fire-related tragedy. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also recommends that you keep holiday trees away from sources of heat that may dry it out such as heaters or fireplaces.
Sullivan adds “We love LED lights. They are a lot safer because they don’t generate as much heat. Plus they don’t use as much electricity, so they’re greener.”
Another thing to remember is making sure your tree doesn’t obstruct any doors or windows that could be used as an exit in the event of a fire.
More common than tree fires, are fires started by unattended candles. In July a fire on Rosewood was caused by a candle. (http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/07/12/candles-cause-fire-on-rosewood/)
“People don’t think where they are putting the candles. They’ll set them up on bookshelves and forget about them. Well they’re surrounded by paper. If that thing falls over onto books, what do you think will happen? Candles are supposed to have a base that is one and a half times wider than the candle is tall. You’ve got a long taper candle that’s just setting in a small glass base, yeah it will catch the wax, but it won’t protect you if it falls over.”
Sullivan said he’s had fires start where the candle was being burned on a desk full of paperwork, and others where someone puts the candle on a shelf where the heat caused the shelf above it to burn.
Incense is another potential problem. The red- hot sticks can cause fire as well as a candle can, and when left unattended can be dangerous. “Electric incense burners are a terrible idea,” Sullivan said. “People leave them on and forget about them and once the wax is gone they can smoke and burn. Plus anything that mixes electricity and heat has the potential to fail and cause an electrical fire. Well, anything electrical can do that, but items like incense burners are even more of a risk.”
FIREPLACES AND CHIMNEYS
Fireplaces and chimneys can be nice if used properly, but a dirty chimney can result in a chimney fire, or worse. “Fortunately in chimney fires most of the fire is contained, unless it gets up into the roof, and then it can be tragic,” Sullivan said. The solution is to have the chimney cleaned regularly and to be responsible when having fires. Never leave a fire unattended, or burn garbage or paper in your fireplace.
MORE FIRE SAFETY
FEMA and the US Fire Administration provide Holiday Fire Safety Tips on their website http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/focus/holiday.shtm. Check it out for more information.
For other Fire Stories, go to http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/police_and_fire/.
To read about the Ferndale Goodfellows and their online paper drive, or to donate to help families here in Ferndale, go to http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/11/19/help-goodfellows-with-their-christmas-mission-no-child-goes-without/