(C. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, June 22, 2012)
June 20 was a busy day for Ferndale Firefighters as they responded to two different minor fires that “could have been worse,” had residents not called 911 quickly.
The first was a kitchen fire in the 400 block of Withington. “The guys had just moved into the house and it had an existing stove. They didn’t realize it, but the pilot tubes had been cut, so when they started the oven it caught on fire,” said Fire Marshall Brian Batten.
They occupants called 911 immediately, and one of the guys tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. “They thought the fire was coming from the inside of the over, but really it was from the back. So while the extinguisher slowed the spread of the flames, he wasn’t getting it at the source. …It did help though”
“Our guys got there quickly and stopped it from spreading. It’s about $10,000 in damage from the smoke and the ruined appliance,” Batten said.
A second fire happened as the result of a do-it-yourself wiring job in a home in the 500 Block of West Saratoga. “This was one of those ‘flipped’ houses,” Batten said. He explained that when the City inspects properties they don’t look at anything that is closed up behind a wall or in a ceiling. At some point in the past someone had re-wired electrical in the ceiling over the living room, using an extension cord that was spliced together and bound to existing wiring with electrical tape. Two weeks ago when the new homeowner had an electrician come in to do other wiring work, it put unexpected stress on the unprofessional wiring job and a fire eventually started in the ceiling.
“The homeowner called 911 right away and we were able to get out and stop it before it spread to the rest of the house,” Batten said. This too caused about $10,000 of damage.
Batten said he hopes residents will use only licensed electricians. “Make sure that if you’re having electrical work done that the contractor pulls a permit. If it’s something simple like replacing a socket it’s not necessary, but if they’re getting into the walls or anything like that, pulling a permit means that it will be inspected and done right.”
For kitchens, he urges people to give appliances a good visual inspection before using them for the first time, and to keep a fire extinguisher hand. He also stressed the importance of calling 911 at the earliest sign of a fire. “In either case things could have been a lot worse if we weren’t able to get there quickly.”
The Ferndale Fire Department offers Fire Inspections to residents, where obvious fire hazards are pointed out. “There’s no charge,” Batten said. “We come in and look for the obvious things – smoke detectors, functioning doors and windows, storage issues. We make sure there are clear paths through the house and things aren’t stored near the furnace or hot water heater.” He also said that if residents question the quality of the the electrical they can contact City Hall’s building inspector for advice, though hiring a licensed electrician to an inspection is the best preventative.
For questions on Fire Safety contact the Ferndale Fire Department at (248) 546-2510.