Jan. 13, 2006
Oswego County Fire Coordinator Cautions: Wood Stove Safety Must be a Priority!
Fulton - Safety while using wood stoves during the cold months of January and February is essential in protecting homes and life safety, Oswego County Fire Coordinator John Hinds said this week.
"In early December this year, we were averaging a structure fire every third day on a county-wide basis," he said. "Many of these fire were related to wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Over the Christmas holiday alone, two structures were heavily damaged as the result of fire involving a wood-burning appliance.
"Not enough can be said about how important it is that people who use wood stoves for heating take precautions to prevent fires," he emphasized.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 140,000 wood burning-related fires, 280 deaths and 2,500 injuries occur each year. In Oswego County during 2004, two of the eight fire-related deaths occurred in a home where the fire was attributed to a wood-burning stove.
"Many more people are using alternate sources of heat this winter in response to high fuel prices," Hinds noted. "We want to remind people that safety should be a priority in heating your home."
Some of the major causes of wood stove fires are:
"People should make sure their wood stoves have been installed properly and according to manufacturers' recommendations, and maintain them and operate them safely to prevent a fire," Hinds said.
In most municipalities, the installation of a wood-burning stove requires a permit from the building code officer. Homeowners are also advised to check with their own insurance company as to special procedures or inspection that may be required.
The following safety tips on wood stove safety are provided by the U.S. Fire Administration:
"Also, make sure you have a smoke detector on each level of your home and that it is operating properly," Hinds said. "Replace the batteries if necessary. Develop and practice an escape plan from all rooms in your home, especially bedrooms. Have a planned meeting location outside the home in the event of a fire. If a fire occurs, get out and stay out - call the fire department from another location."
Hinds said that smoke detectors in a home in the Town of Amboy in late December alerted the occupants to a fire involving a fireplace. The home was heavily damaged, but the smoke detectors did their job in alerting the sleeping family to a fire.
"The best way to protect your home from a fire is to prevent one," said Hinds. "We wish everyone a safe and happy new year."
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