Morristown Fire Department: Heat sources believed as cause of 5 house fires

During this time of year, when temperatures drop and more heating applications are being used, the Morristown Fire Department would like to remind you to be vigilant in using “SAFE” practices while heating your home, office, vehicle, or garage. Being well educated on the proper uses and dangers of heating devices can greatly reduce the risk of a fire, injury, or even death.

The Morristown Fire Department has responded to 5 structure fires within the last 2 weeks. Although an investigation is still ongoing into some of these properties, investigators are led to believe that some kind of heating source is to be blamed for the fire loss thus far.

Here are a few tips to consider while using such devices.

  1. All heaters need space! Maintain at least 3 feet of clear space around anything that produces heat. This includes common combustibles such as paper, clothing, furniture, bedding, towels, etc. This also includes flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel. REMEMBER, if it can burn, then keep it away from heat sources.
  2. Educate and Supervise children! Educate them in the dangers associated with heating equipment and create a 3 foot “Kid- Free Zone” around all open fires, space heaters, stoves and ovens.
  3. Use heating equipment that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory!
  4. Never use the cooking stove or oven as a means for a heating source!
  5. Only use space heaters that have an automatic shut-off! This will cause the heater to turn off if it gets tipped over, or if it runs out of fuel.
  6. Plug heaters directly into the wall outlet! Extension cords and power strips can overload, causing a fire.
  7. Use proper ventilation when using any fuel burning heaters such as gas fireplaces and heaters and wood burning fireplaces and stoves.
  8. Inspect flues and chimneys yearly! This should be done by a licensed contractor. All deficiencies should be addressed and corrected prior to starting a fire.
  9. Do not use flammable liquids to start a fire! Use only newspaper, kindling wood or fire starter logs to start a fire.
  10. Use candles with caution! Only use candles in well ventilated areas. Place candles on a sturdy surface and use candleholders that will not burn. Never leave candles unattended. Keep lit candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Consider using battery operated candles instead of regular wax candles!
  11. Never use a candle or other “OPEN FLAME” heating source where medical oxygen is being used! Fire needs Oxygen to live. Medical O2 is a gas that can saturate an area, causing everything to become volatile if an open flame is near.
  12. Install working CO or Carbon Monoxide alarms if you are using any type of fuel to heat or cook in your home!
  13. Install and maintain working Smoke Alarms! These should be placed in each sleeping room, and on every floor of your home. A smoke alarm should be tested each month by pressing and holding the test button. A new battery should be installed each year, and when a device is 10 years old, it should be replaced with a new one.
  14. Home Escape Plan! Develop an Emergency Escape Plan that includes at least 2 ways out for every member of your residence. Include strengths and weaknesses of all persons living at your residence. Emergency contact names and numbers should also be included. Practice your escape plan to ensure everyone gets out alive.

If you or someone you know needs assistance purchasing a smoke alarm, call the Morristown Fire Department at 423-585-4651.