Proper preparations and awareness tips to prevent house fires

Tallahassee Fire Station No. 3
Photo Submitted by Darilyn Smith

Residential fires are devastations that can result in major damages, injuries and sometimes even fatalities.

On average, every 24 seconds a fire department is responding to a hazardous call somewhere in the nation. Home structure fire causes can range from cooking equipment being left unattended to washer machines and clothing dryers’ electrical issues.

Demetrius Campbell, a firefighter in Charlotte, North Carolina explains the most common fires.  

“The most frequent calls are for kitchen fires, someone forgot to turn off the stove, and dumpster fires are common too,” said Campbell.

A residential fire does not always begin in the house itself. Fires can ignite in the exterior of the residence and gradually move to the home.

“All kinds of items are thrown into a trash can or dumpster. People aren’t always aware of what they are throwing away, and if you put the wrong things together it can become very dangerous. For example, when bleach and vinegar mix it creates combustible chlorine gas,” said Campbell.

However, house fires can be avoidable, with the proper preparations and awareness the number of residential fires can decrease according to Robert Clary, staff captain and fire safety educator with the Tallahassee Fire Department.

“Rule of thumb when it comes to fire safety in the kitchen; always remember no children within three feet of a stove. Always keep your pot handles turned away from you,” stated Clary.

Fredrick Dixon, a firefighter at Seymour Johnson Fire Department in Goldsboro, North Carolina stressed the importance of having a smoke detector in your home.

“Having a working smoke detector in your home saves lives,” said Dixon.

Making sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly, and having a fire extinguisher in case of emergencies are preparations that can prevent a fire from breaking out or increasing in size. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Clary explains that homeowners should have a safety plan in case of emergencies.

“Each home should have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room. Practice your fire drill at least twice a year to make sure you can get out the way you plan to exit. All of your windows and doors should open easily in case of evacuation. Create a set meeting place and never go back in the house,” said Clary.

The Tallahassee Fire Department conducts free fire safety home surveys; if you schedule an appointment they can come out, assess your home and provide you with pointers for fire safety precautions. 

National Fire Prevention Week is an annual event held throughout the second week of October. This year’s campaign is, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” During this time the Tallahassee Fire Department units go out into the community and discuss fire safety education.