House fires are a serious issue in St. James. The speed by which homes can be consumed by flames is intense.
The prevention of home fires and installment of action plans should be mandatory in every home in the area.
Seven people die each day as a result of a house fire in the United States. Most at risk are older adults, who are unable to get out of the house quick enough and become consumed by smoke according to a new NFPA report on home fire statistics.
Deaths from fires in homes with smoke alarms that are deficient or don’t exist account for 60 percent of all home fire deaths. Smoke alarms should be checked once a month and batteries should be replaced at least once a year.
“Prevention or safety is making sure you’ve got your smoke alarms working,” said St. James Fire Chief Jason Monnens. “And your carbon monoxide detectors. It can spread very fast - so make sure to keep your doors closed and if you do see a fire don’t try to put it out, just get out of the house.”
Keeping your doors closed while you are sleeping or just hanging out inside can help stop the spread of a fire once it has begun. It prevents air from moving through the home and acts as a barrier for the flames.
An action plan is also important in staying safe during a house fire. Families should have a meeting area in the case of a fire – to ensure that everyone is accounted for and out of the house. Under no circumstances should an individual re-enter a burning building. Call 911 immediately and let the firefighters handle the flames.
“As you can see during the last fire, it takes no time for a fire to spread,” said Monnens. “We were there fast enough and it went through that house in no time.”
The average response time for firefighters in St. James is five to seven minutes. Monnens said a lot of damage can be done in the time takes to get to a fire. Fire spreads quickly.
It is also important for the public to understand that fire equipment will need space when putting out a fire. It is normal for the public to want to view a house fire, but be conscious of the fact that the trucks and equipment will need the street to fight the fire. If you do choose to view a house fire, park a few blocks away and walk to the home. Fire is dangerous, so standing far from the flames is also a good idea. There is no way of knowing what is inside a home while it is burning and anything could set off an explosion within the home.
Page 2 of 2 - Firefighters don’t have the time to patrol the street and clear space for their trucks while they are fighting a fire. Respect for the work firefighters do will help ensure a fire is put out quickly and safely.
Some fire prevention tips include:
Staying in the kitchen when cooking or near a grill when grilling.
Putting out all candles when leaving a home or apartment.
Giving space heaters space to heat a room.
Only smoke outside of the home and have deep, sturdy ashtrays for smokers.
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Don’t use any electrical cords that have been damaged or ripped.
Install smoke alarms and test them regularly.
If you are building or remodeling a home, install sprinklers. Sprinklers reduce the risk of death in a house fire by 83 percent according to the NFPA.