When it comes time to heat homes, chimneys and flues are the leading factor contributing to fires.
For Pulaski Fire Marshal Todd Garwood, that’s becoming pretty evident given the fact Pulaski Fire Department responded to six this year. Of that six, three were in November and there has been one, so far, in December.
“Failure to properly clean (flues) is the leading cause of chimney fires that Pulaski Fire Department responds to,” Garwood said, noting that they accounted for 28 percent of fires house fires. “County fire departments have also responded to several chimney fires this year.”
Garwood said his office is trying to educate the public on the dangers of failing to have creosote removed from their chimneys. A reputable chimney inspector should also check the chimney at least annually to make sure there are no cracks or other unsafe conditions.
When victims of chimney fires are questioned about maintenance, he said, “Unfortunately, the answer is all too often ‘I did it last year,’ or ‘I don’t remember the last time.’”
Despite the prevalence of chimney fires, Garwood also reminds citizens this is also a time of year when extra care and attention should be given to the condition and use of Christmas trees and decorations.
•Before placing a live tree in its stand, he recommends cutting at least one to two inches from the base of the trunk to ensure it can soak up the water. Water the tree at least three times per day and be sure to place it at least three feet from any heat source. Never allow the tree to block an exit. Be sure to remove it from the home when it becomes dry.
•Check all cords for damage, such as those with insulation of a protective cover that is broken, frayed, exposed or missing. Always turn off lights when going to bed or leaving home. Not all lights are for use outdoors, so be sure to use lights that are correct for the situation. As with trees, do not block doors or windows with lights or other decorations.
•Choose flame resistant or flame retardant decorations. Keep lit candles away from trees, decorations and other items that are flammable. Always blow out candles when leaving home or going to bed. Garwood said two out of every five holiday decoration fires are caused by candles and nearly half involve decorations being placed too close to a heat source.
Regardless of the time of year or type of fire that might occur, Garwood stresses that all homes should be equipped with smoke detector alarms that are tested at least once a month. Fire safety officials recommend changing the batteries in detectors when the time changes between Daylight Saving and Standard times to ensure they are working.
Families should also have a home escape plan with two ways out that everyone knows and has practiced. If you have guests in your home, be sure to instruct them on the plan so they can safely escape if a fire occurs.
For more information on home fire prevention, contact the Pulaski Fire Marshal’s Office at 994-8664 or Pulaski Fire Department at 994-8662.