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.

Contact(s)

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