Fire Chief advises public to purchase smoke alarms

J.D. Charles For The Logan Banner

November 17, 2013

Winter time is here and it is the most deadly time of the year for structure fires, notes Logan Fire Chief Scott Beckett, who is asking the public to take the time and effort to purchase inexpensive smoke alarms which could save lives.

Every year the Logan Fire Department gives out as many smoke alarms as it is able, thanks to assistance from the city, local businesses and folks who donate to the cause, but there are only so many the department can afford, Beckett told the Logan City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 12 during the regular monthly meeting.

Beckett said this year his department will be giving out all the smoke alarms they have to children as part of the LFD’s fire safety and education program. Beckett noted that some are

available at local businesses for as little as $4 each and can save lives. “We have about 250 and we will be distributing them to children so that we can get across he message of fire safety early. If we can get more we will give out more. But nothing is free. It is important to teach children early.”

Chief Beckett noted that old wiring in many structures, improper use of space heaters and cramped conditions often make the winter months the worst time of the year for fire departments in Appalachia.

City Code Enforcement Officer Ray Perry noted that a fire alarm had gone off last week at the school complex on Midelburg Island, but thanks to quick thinking staff and students the building was evacuated within two minutes and everyone got to safety.

“It was a textbook scenario how well that was handled,” Perry said, noting the fire was rapidly extinguished and nobody faced danger thanks to proper training among staff and students. “They really had safety in mind, and it showed.”

Not all recent fire calls have been so fortunate, however. Earlier this fall a structure fire in town led to the loss of two lives, Chief Beckett noted.

“October was a pretty bad month with 78 calls, including the call that saw two people lose their lives,” Beckett said.

Chief Beckett said many of these fires can be prevented.

• Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.

• Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.

• Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Never introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.

• Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.

• Never fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling.

• When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.

In the past local firefighters have seen disasters where people had space heaters located too close to flammable items or next to blankets or stacked clothing that caught fire. Keep things that might catch fire away from the heaters to avoid tragedy.

“And invest a few dollars in a smoke alarm. For a handful of dollars you could save your life and avoid a tragedy,” Beckett said.

People overlook it when their homes get older and the writing wears out. You need a smoke alarm in your home. Overloaded wiring, improper use of space heaters and smoking indoors makes this the deadliest time of the year for fires.”