Fire Prevention and Safety

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FIGHT FIRE with FIRE PREVENTION! Your life and the lives of your loved ones depend on it! Follow these safety tips.

Fire hydrant safety

The South Huron Fire Department relies on hydrants owned by the Municipality to provide a water supply during fire suppression efforts.

One way South Huron citizens can help firefighters is to keep hydrants clear of snow, vegetation growth and debris and in firefighting condition. The area surrounding a fire hydrant needs to be carefully maintained. If a fire hydrant is not clearly visible, fire crews responding to emergencies could be delayed in locating a hydrant. During a fire, every second counts and any delay could result in loss of life or property.

Please ensure that any and all materials are not placed or kept near fire hydrants, as well as a five foot space should be maintained around the circumference of the hydrant. And please, do not paint any hydrant without the permission of the Municipality of South Huron.

Public support for maintaining hydrants and the area around them will help fire crews respond quickly and help save lives and limit property damage. If you note hydrants that are obstructed and/or damaged, please immediately report that information to the Municipality of South Huron Water Department or your local Fire Department.

Chimney fire safety

Failing to maintain your woodstove or fireplace properly can lead to a chimney fire. Chimney fires occur when combustible deposits on the inner walls of the chimney ignite. These combustible deposits, called "creosote”, are a natural byproduct of wood burning. A fire hazard exists if 1/4 inch of creosote (or more) coats the inner walls of the chimney.

Prevention

Chimney fires do not occur in clean, intact, properly installed chimneys. Have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your appliance at least once a year. More frequent cleanings may be required, based on the type of wood burned, the type of appliance, and the frequency of use. In general, an older, uncertified woodstove, or any appliance that is used frequently, will require more than one cleaning per year. Burn only well seasoned firewood in your heating appliance and never burn papers or garbage. Burning paper can easily be lifted up the chimney by the natural draft and ignite the creosote. Also note that the municipal burning by-law prohibits burning any material that creates toxic smoke or obnoxious odours in violation of the requirements of the Ministry of Environment, Air Quality Branch.

Detection

The first indication of a chimney fire is usually the noise—a roaring sound that grows louder as the fire's intensity increases. Clouds of black smoke and sparks will be seen exiting the top of the chimney; in severe fires, flames can extend several feet about the chimney.

Action

In case of a chimney fire, follow these steps:

  • Call the fire department immediately.
  • Alert others in the house to evacuate.
  • Close the appliance's dampers and/or the primary air inlet controls, limiting the fire's air supply and reducing its intensity.
  • If there is a barometric damper in the chimney connector, plug or close the opening in the barometric damper.
  • Open the appliance door just enough to insert the nozzle of a 10 lb dry chemical fire extinguisher rated for Class ABC fires. Discharge the entire content of the extinguisher into the appliance and shut the door.
  • If possible, wet down the roof and other outside combustibles to prevent fires ignited by shooting sparks and flames.
  • Closely monitor all combustible surfaces near the chimney. During severe chimney fires, these surfaces can become hot enough to ignite.
  • After a chimney fire, have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep or woodstove/fireplace installer. Contact your insurance carrier.

After a chimney fire

DO NOT USE THE CHIMNEY UNTIL A PROFESSIONAL HAS INSPECTED IT.

The excessive heat produced by a chimney fire can crack chimney walls, damage chimney liners, and damage some types of factory-built chimneys. If not repaired, these damages create a greater possibility for any subsequent chimney fire to spread beyond the confines of the flue to the house.

Smoke alarm safety

In 2007, the Office of the Fire Marshal introduced new regulations making it the homeowners' responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of their homes and outside sleeping areas. It is also the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that their rental properties comply with this law. Failure to comply with Fire Code smoke alarm requirements could result in a ticket for $235.00, or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations, It is the intent of the Ontario Fire Marshal that all municipalities use a zero tolerance approach when dealing with non-compliance of the smoke alarm regulations to ensure the safety of the occupants.

Choosing an alarm

Be sure the smoke alarms you buy carry the label of an independent testing laboratory such as ULC or CSA.

Several types of alarms are available. Some run on batteries, others on household electric current. Some detect smoke using an "ionization" sensor, others use a "photoelectric" detection system. All approved smoke alarms, regardless of the type, will offer adequate protection provided they are installed and maintained properly.

Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke alarm. If any residents are hearing-impaired or sleep with bedroom door closed, install additional alarms inside sleeping areas as well. There are special smoke alarms for the hearing impaired; these flash a light in addition to sounding an audible alarm.

For extra protection, we suggest installing alarms in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms and hallways. Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms or garages - where cooking fumes, steam or exhaust fumes could set off false alarms - or for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect an alarm's operation.

Where to install

Because smoke rises, mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling. Wall-mounted units should be mounted so the top of the alarm is 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) from the ceiling. A ceiling mounted alarm should be attached at least 4 inches (10 cm) from the nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the alarm at or near the ceiling's highest point.

In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, position smoke alarms anywhere in the path of smoke moving up the stairs. But always position smoke alarms at the bottom of closed stairways, such a those leading to the basement, because dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway could prevent smoke from reaching an alarm located at the top.

Do not install a smoke alarm too near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the alarm's operation.

Installation

Most battery-powered smoke alarms and alarms that plug into wall outlets can be installed using only a drill and a screwdriver by following the manufacturer's instructions. Plug-in alarms must have restraining devices so they cannot be unplugged by accident. Alarms can also be hard-wired into a building's electrical system. Hard-wired alarms should be installed by a qualified electrician. Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off by a wall switch.

False alarms

Cooking vapours and steam sometimes set off a smoke alarm. To correct this, try moving the alarm away from the kitchen or bathroom or install an exhaust fan. Cleaning your alarm regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions, may also help.

If "nuisance alarms" persist, do not disable the alarm. Replace it!

Maintenance

  • Only a functioning smoke alarm can protect you!
  • Never disable an alarm by borrowing its battery for another use.
  • Following the manufacturer's instructions, test all your smoke alarms monthly and install new batteries at least once a year. A good reminder is when you change your clocks in the spring or fall: change your clock, change your battery.
  • Clean your smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover.
  • Never paint a smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms do not last forever. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
  • Smoke detectors are not classified as hazardous material therefore they can be disposed of in your regular household garbage.

Plan and practice

  • Make sure everyone is familiar with the sound of the alarm.
  • Plan escape routes. Know at least two ways out of each room. Agree on a meeting place outside your home where all residents will gather after they escape. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Remove obstructions from doors and windows needed for escape.
  • Make sure everyone in the household can unlock doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars should be equipped with quick-release devices and everyone in the household should know how to use them.
  • When an alarm sounds, leave immediately. Go directly to your outside meeting place and call the fire department.
  • Once you're out, stay out. Never return to a burning building.

Smoke Alarms 

You may have just seconds to safely escape a fire in your home. That’s why early detection of fire is absolutely vital. Only working smoke alarms provide those precious seconds you and your family need to safely escape. The links at the left provide important information to help ensure you and your family always have the early detection smoke alarms provide.

Remember, it’s the law in Ontario to have working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. More information is available at the links on the left.

 

Install working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of your home. It’s the law!

Develop a home fire escape plan.

Know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Sit down with everyone in your household and discuss how each person will get out of the home in a fire.

Practise your escape plan with everyone in your home.

Make sure everyone can get out quickly.

Make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible.

If the door of the room is blocked by smoke or fire, discuss an alternate escape route such as a window. Make sure all windows open easily. Security bars on windows should have quick-releasing devices so they can be easily removed.

 Help those who need it!

Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults, people with disabilities or anyone else who may need assistance.

Get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit.

Most fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation.

Choose a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your home.

A tree, a street light or a neighbour’s home are all good choices. In case of fire, everyone should go directly to this meeting place to be accounted for.

Get out, stay out.

Never re-enter a burning building. Once you have safely escaped, call the fire department from outside your home using a cell phone or from a neighbour’s home.

Carbon Monoxide

The Hawkins Gignac Act, 2013 proclaims the week beginning on November 1 of each year as Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. No matter which day of the week it is, November 1 is always the start of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week.

Resources you can use to support Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week initiatives and campaigns are available by clicking here.

Alarm Replacement 
 

It’s recommended to change your batteries in your smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms twice a year to remain safe and make sure their working. A good way to remember is when you change your clocks to change your batteries and keep up to date. 

In order to survive a fire, you need to be provided with an early warning and know what to do when the smoke alarms sound. Working smoke alarms are required on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. For added protection, it is recommended to also install smoke alarms inside all bedrooms.  

Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed outside all sleeping areas if your home has a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage.

Escape Plan 
    • Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.  Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.
    • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
    • When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
    • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbour's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
    • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
    • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbour's home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
    • If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency
    • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Emergency release devices won't compromise your security - but they will increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
    • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people's homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don't have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend "sleepovers" at friends' homes. See NFPA's "Sleepover fire safety for kids" fact sheet.
    • Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings may be safer "defending in place."
    • Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Firework Safety

If you still choose to have a family fireworks or an informal neighbourhood display, check with your local fire department about regulations regarding fireworks. Here are some important safety tips to be followed:

  • Appoint a responsible person to be in charge. Only adults who are aware of the hazards and essential safety precautions should handle and discharge fireworks.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on fireworks packaging.
    Always keep a water hose or pail of water close by when discharging fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks well away from combustible materials like buildings, trees and dry grass.
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.
  • Light only one firework at a time and only when they are on the ground. Never try to light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks. For dud fireworks, it is best to wait 30 minutes and soak them in a bucket of water. Dispose of them in a metal container.
  • Discharge fireworks only if wind conditions do not create a safety hazard.
  • Keep sparklers away from children. Sparklers burn extremely hot and can ignite clothing, cause blindness and result in severe burns. As the sparkler wire remains hot for some minutes after burnout, it should be immediately soaked in water to avoid injury.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for three to five minutes and seek medical attention, if necessary.
Farm Fire Safety

FIRE PREVENTION ON THE FARM

A barn fire is a farmer’s worst nightmare and often, it brings significant emotional and economic damage to a farming community. Between 2007 and 2011, barn fires in Ontario accounted for over $175 million in property losses. In 2014, there were 150 fires in barns containing equipment, produce, or housing animals, resulting in losses of more than $28 million.

There are many steps that can be taken to establish a good fire prevention plan to reduce the risk of fire on farm properties. The following information outlines simple measures to ensure farm buildings and livestock are safer from fire. These fires are largely preventable by following good fire safety practices.

HOW FIRES START

Fires require three elements: oxygen, fuel and heat. Farm buildings are particularly susceptible to fast-moving fires because they are well ventilated. Barns and farm buildings provide a plentiful fuel supply for fires to start and grow: the buildings themselves are constructed of wood and house solid fuels such as hay, straw and grain. The final element, the heat source, can take the form of sunlight, friction, electricity, open flame, gas compression and/or chemical reactions. Measures on how to help prevent farm fires are outlined below.

PREVENT FIRES ON YOUR FARM

1. START WITH A PLAN: It is a good idea to contact your local fire department to find out how to effectively prevent fire on your farm. Most fire departments will visit your farm and point out areas where you can decrease the risk of a fire. They will also provide advice on access routes to all areas of your property. Use this information to develop a plan for your farm. Introduce the plan to everyone who frequents your farm and ensure that procedures are up to date and practiced. If possible, make arrangements with neighbouring farmers to provide shelter for your livestock if the event they need to be evacuated from your farm.

2. Absolutely NO SMOKING:There should be no smoking permitted in any barn or farm buildings at any time. Strictly enforce a no smoking policy by posting signs and informing people who work or visit with you. Make sure that any cigarettes are extinguished thoroughly in a safe location prior to entering the barn or farm buildings.

Smoking Safety

If you smoke, use only fire-safe cigarettes.

  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Most deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms and dens or in bedrooms.
  • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials up high out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet. Put It Out.
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn. 
  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily. 
  • Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

Smoking and Medical Oxygen Never smoke and never allow anyone to smoke where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter

 

RISKS 

  • The risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age.
  • One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.

 

Electronic Cigarettes Fires have occurred while e-cigarettes were being used, the battery was being charged, or the device was being transported. Battery failures have led to small explosions. Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended. 

Cooking and BBQ Safety

To ensure your barbecue is ready for grilling season, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority recommends making this three-step safety check part of your spring-cleaning routine:

  1. CLEAN: use a pipe cleaner or wire to make sure the burner ports are free of rust, dust, dirt, spider webs or other debris.
  2. CHECK: examine the hose leading from the fuel supply to the burners. Replace if cracked or damaged.
  3. TEST: find leaks by applying a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap to all fuel and hose connections. If bubbles appear, tighten the connections and/or replace the damaged parts and always re-test.

Remember that barbecues are for outdoor use only. If used in an enclosed space, carbon monoxide – an odourless, colourless, poisonous gas – will gather and reach dangerous exposure levels, which can lead to serious health effects, or even death.

For more information and safety tips about propane barbecues, visit the Technical Standards and Safety Authority website: safetyinfo.ca.  

Seasonal Properties 

To minimize the risk of fire and burn injury, the fire service recommends the following cottage fire safety tips:

Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. It’s the law for all Ontario homes, cottages, cabins and seasonal homes to have working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas.

  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly or each time you return to the cottage. Pack a new smoke alarm and extra smoke alarm batteries in case they need replacement.
  • Install and ensure carbon monoxide alarms in your cottage if it has a fuel-burning appliance.
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • Know the telephone number for the local fire department and your cottage’s emergency sign number, in case of emergency.
  • Clean barbecues before using them. Keep an eye on lit barbecues and ensure all combustibles, as well as children and pets are kept well away from them. Fires can happen when barbecues are left unattended.
  • Keep barbecue lighters and matches out of sight and reach of children.
  • Remember to bring a flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Check heating appliances and chimneys before using them.
  • Check with your local fire department, municipality, or Ministry of Natural Resources to determine whether open air burning is permitted before having a campfire or burning brush. If open burning is allowed, fires should be built on bare soil or on exposed rock. Remove leaves and twigs from around the fire to keep it from spreading. Always keep a bucket of water, sand, or even a shovel close by and supervise the fire at all times.
  • If you must smoke, do so outside. Keep a large can with water nearby so cigarette butts can be safely discarded. If you drink, do so responsibly. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are contributing factors in many fires and can lead to serious injuries.
  • Burn candles in sturdy candle holders that will not tip and are covered with a glass shade. When you go out, blow out!

When Transporting Cylinders:

  • Ensure propane cylinders are upright and secure during transport.
  • Keep cylinder valves closed and protected during transport.
  • Plug or cap cylinder outlets during transport.

When Using Cylinders:

  • Ensure cylinders are upright and secure on a firm footing.
  • Check cylinder connections and hoses for leaks by brushing a 50/50 mix of liquid soap and water onto all connections and hoses. Rising bubbles when you turn on the valve indicate a leak. Tighten connections or repair the hose until there are no bubbles.
  • Keep cylinders away from flame, heat, and exits.

Using Propane in your RV or Camper: 

  • Keep all combustion exhaust vents on the exterior wall of your RV or camper clear of obstructions.
  • Use stove top burners or ovens only for cooking and not as a source of heat.
  • Propane appliances require an adequate supply of fresh air for proper combustion. Ensure your RV or camper is properly ventilated to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm and propane leak detector.

Barbecue Safety:

  • Ensure barbecues are on firm, level footing.
  • Keep barbecues well away from the side of your RV, camper or tent, and other combustibles.
  • Make sure igniter buttons work properly before turning the gas on. If there is no igniter, insert a long match or barbecue lighter through the side burner hole before you turn on the grill controls.
  • Keep barbecues clean of grease to prevent flare-ups.
  • Stay by the grill when cooking and keep kids and pets at a safe distance.
  • Turn off all burner controls and tank valves after each use.  

Holiday Safety

Cooking, heating equipment, smoking, and alcohol are all factors of why fires happen over the holidays. We can prevent these incidents in simple ways such as staying in the kitchen while cooking, keeping up to date with inspections and cleaning, having a place to smoke and having better places to put out smokes, and lastly always being responsible while drinking on holidays in ways of, having a plan of getting to and from, and making sure who is cooking is paying attention. 

Fire Inspection Available 

 Contact Fire Chief Jeremy Becker at firechief@southhuron.ca 

Contact(s)

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© 2018 The Municipality of South Huron, 322 Main Street South P.O. Box 759 Exeter, ON N0M 1S6