A Message from the Fire Chief

Over the last several years I have used our annual newsletter to focus on the accomplishments of the department and its future goals and challenges.  We recognize that the greatest success our fire company can achieve is to reduce the instances or effects of emergencies in our community. This year I would like to reach out to all citizens across many forms of communication to address several topics that can help keep you and your family safe.  Thoughtful consideration of each topic may prevent you from ever needing the services of the fire company.  Should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, I have also included a few tips to ensure the best possible outcome.

Visible Address Numbers

A survey of the street addressing on any given street in the township will quickly reveal several homes and businesses without visible house or building numbers.  Responders must be able to quickly identify the correct location of an emergency. Please ensure that the address numbers of your home or business are properly marked with a minimum of 4-inch reflective letters.  It helps to have the numbers clearly placed on each side of your mailbox as well as in a conspicuous place on your home or building.  Time lost while attempting to locate the proper address can increase the amount of damage from a fire, or worse, delay life saving measures in a medical emergency. 

Have Working Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke detectors have been around for many years, but the surprising fact is many homes still lack working smoke detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective early warning system that will allow your family to escape a fire. Every home must be equipped with working smoke detectors.  There should be at least one smoke detector on each floor and one in every bedroom.  Remember to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors often.  An easy way to remember to do this is to replace the batteries each time you change your clocks in the fall and spring of each year.  Don’t forget to practice your exit drill so everyone knows what to do if the smoke detector alarms in your home or business.

In addition to smoke detectors, every home and business should be equipped with a working Carbon Monoxide, or CO, detector.  Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that is known as “the silent killer” because it is toxic in high concentrations or prolonged exposure to low concentrations. Any home or business that is heated with gas, oil, or wood is susceptible to high levels of Carbon Monoxide if there is a malfunction of the heating system.  Vehicles and other combustion engines in an attached garage can also cause high levels of Carbon Monoxide to spread into your home.

The fire company routinely responds to Carbon Monoxide detector activations and has encountered many cases where CO levels were dangerously high.  A working Carbon Monoxide detector alerted the residents of the problem before they became ill.   With the winter heating season approaching, ensure you have a working CO detector in your home or business.  Remember, CO detectors must be replaced every seven years to remain effective.

Have Fire Extinguishers and Know How to Use Them

Fire Extinguishers can control a fire when detected in its early stages.  Every home should be equipped with several fire extinguishers.  Place them in garages, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, and anywhere they can be reached quickly to control a fire.  Be sure everyone in the home or business knows how and when to operate a fire extinguisher.  We offer classes to groups of all sizes on the proper operation of fire extinguishers.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like fire extinguisher training. 

Close the Bedroom Doors

Studies have shown that smoke and fire travel within a building are drastically reduced when interior doors are closed.  In fact, extensive testing by Underwriters Laboratories proved that simply closing a bedroom door in a burning home can create a temporary safe haven that allows the occupant to find an alternate escape route.

Do you or your children sleep with the bedroom door open? If you answer yes, then consider installing a device on the bedroom doors that listens for the smoke alarm and then closes the door.  Companies like Life Door (www.lifedoor.io) and others have residential products available that listen for a smoke detector and automatically close a bedroom door.  If you prefer to leave your doors open while you sleep, consider installing these types of life-saving devices.

Reduce Potential for Flood Damage

This summer has been one of the wettest on record and the fire company answered many calls for flooding. We provide equipment and assistance to homes and businesses who experience flooding conditions, but our limited resources can quickly be overwhelmed during heavy rain events.  You can take some simple steps to minimize the potential flood damage.  First, clear out unnecessary clutter in basements and flood-prone areas.  Keep all drains and catch basins clear of debris (many times, flood damage is due to blocked drains). Ensure that downspouts are not clogged and that they point away from your home.  If your home or business has a sump pump, test it often to ensure it is functioning.  Like all equipment, sump pumps can break down so keep a spare on hand to prevent water damage. Consider adding a battery backup to your sump pump to ensure it remains functional in a power outage.  Remember, if you use a generator to power your sump pump during a power outage, be sure to keep it outside to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Celebrate the Holidays Safely

The holidays are fast approaching and decorating homes is always a cheerful way to celebrate.  Use caution when climbing ladders to install decorations and have a helper.  Always use properly rated extension cords when supplying power to the decorations.  Avoid running extension cords that are undersized for the distance and the required power consumption.   If you must use staples to install decorations or extension cords, be sure they are the insulated type and be careful not to puncture the wire when attaching them.  Never run an extension cord under carpet as the friction of walking over the cord can cause an electrical short.  If you have (or are expecting visits from) small children, be sure to install receptacle guards on all open receptacles to prevent an object from being inserted into the receptacle. 

If your holiday decorating includes burning candles, be sure to keep them out of the reach of children and safely away from all combustible items (especially curtains).  With candles burning in the home or office, fire extinguishers are very important to stop the spread of a fire before it gets out of control.

Use Mobile Devices Safely

Cell phones and mobile devices are now a way of life and it seems we cannot function without them.  Mobile device technology has raised the standard of living but it can also cause safety hazard when used improperly.  This is especially true if mobile devices are operated while driving.  If you take a moment to observe the many drivers of all sizes of vehicles, you may be surprised to notice how many seem more occupied with texting or talking on the phone rather than paying attention to the road.  Next time you sit at an intersection while waiting for the light to change, count the cars passing by where the driver is using a mobile device!  There are many safety slogans that remind us of the danger including: “Text and Drive and You May Not Arrive!”   Please don’t become an accident statistic due to use of a mobile device while driving!

In closing, I have touched on just a few of the safety hazards we see often in our response district.  This brief list hardly scratches the surface of areas where we all need to pay attention to safety.  We teach new firefighters entering the department that each member is responsible for his or her own safety.  This same message goes out to all our citizens as well.  Please pay attention, protect your family and your home or business by taking some simple steps to be safe!

John DiCola, Jr.
Fire Chief