Bureau of Fire Prevention

Barry A. Howard
Fire Marshal/Official
(973) 635-3211

The Township of Chatham - Fire Prevention Bureau recommends these home tips for preventing fires as basic rules of thumb.

Electrical Fires

  • Electric Blankets, Heating Pads
  • Never fold or roll blanket -- heat will build up in wires, igniting blanket and rest of bed. Unplug and smooth flat when not in use. Don't leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes. Never fall asleep with it on. Set alarm clock to awaken in 30 minutes, if necessary.
  • Wires, Plugs & Extension Cords
    • Keep down the number of cords in one outlet or cord will overheat, causing sparks. Never run cords under rugs, behind radiators or across doorways where they can become worn. Have broken cords, switches making hiccup sounds, and hot plugs professionally repaired. Don't mask problem with electrical tape. Be sure to use proper gauge extension cord -- especially with power tools and high wattage appliances.
  • Fuses, Light Bulbs
    • Use only proper size fuse or circuit will be overloaded, wiring will overheat, deteriorate and start a fire. If bulb is to large, overheating can occur in cord, shade, socket, wiring or fixture, igniting combustibles.
  • Portable Space Heaters
    • Use one with thermostat (not just switch) that shuts off by itself when tipped over. Plug directly into own outlet. Use in area free of combustibles and well ventilated for heat escape. Never leave on overnight.
  • Clothes Dryers
    • Never leave synthetic fabrics, plastics, rubber or foam in the dryer for longer than the manufacturers recommended time. Clean lint screen before and after use. Keep area free of combustibles. Dryers must be vented to outside and plugged into own outlet.
  • Personal Grooming Appliances
    • Hair dryers, curling irons, hot rollers, makeup mirrors, and electric razors must be away from combustibles while in use. Disconnect after use. Never fold/crimp cords or insulation will be ruined, exposing wires which can short out and spark.
  • Vaporizers
    • Never leave vaporizer unattended or near combustibles. Keep water level ample. Check that cord at the plug is not too hot. If it is, disconnect immediately. Use in own outlet or with heavy-duty extension cord.
  • How to fight small electrical fires
    • Switch off appliance and pull out plug. Smother fire with blanket or Type C extinguisher. Never try to cool with water because water conducts electricity and can give you an electrical shock.

Cooking Fires

  • Greasy Pan
    • Never heat cooking oil and leave room. A flame can ignite spontaneously! Keep combustibles away from stove, especially loose sleeves or scarves. Hot grease can spatter and ignite any paper, cloth, or wood materials nearby.
  • Fire In Oven
    • Avoid letting grease build up in any part of oven. A greasy broiler can catch fire even during preheating. If there is too much fat on a piece of meat, the grease can flare up and start a fire.
  • How to Fight Small Cooking
    • Fires Shut off stove or oven, smother pan with lid/Type B extinguisher or baking soda. Smother fire in oven by keeping door closed and/or throwing baking soda on food. Never Move Pan. It will fan the fire or spatter grease. Never turn on the exhaust fan or use water. Fan will draw up flames. Let fat cool in oven or else contact with air may make fire flare up again.

Gas Fires

  • Leaking Gas
    • Never enter an area with a lighted match or cigarette if you smell gas from a pipe, heater or stove. The smallest spark or flame could ignite gas in the air and cause an explosion.
  • How to Fight Small Gas fires
    • Shut off gas supply. Smother with rug, blanket or Type B extinguisher or cool with water. Ventilate the area to let gases out. Call Fire department by dialing 9-1-1 always to have the area pipes checked for further hazards. Then call the gas company. Note: if there is a gas fire, it may be better to let the gas burn rather than extinguish the fire which would let the gas fill the room or house creating the potential for an explosion. Therefore, the primary key is to shut off the gas supply and call the fire department.

Storage Fires

  • Oil Soaked Rags
    • Dry out by spreading in a well ventilated room so heat can escape, then wash. Never put oily rags in a pile because they can ignite themselves. Store in labeled metal containers sealed with a tight lid.
  • Barbecue Charcoal
    • Store unused coal in a cool, dry place because damp coal can ignite itself. Use metal pail/garbage can with tight lid and place in open space where heat can escape if self-ignition should occur.
  • Flammable Liquids
    • Never use or store in room with pilot light, or to close to hot light bulbs because vapors in air can easily be ignited. Store in cool, dry room in labeled metal containers with tight lid.
  • Stacks of Newspaper
    • Avoid storing in a damp, warm place because newspapers generate heat and can ignite themselves. Store in cool, dry place at least 3 feet away from any heat-generating source, such as a pilot light.
  • How to Fight Small Storage Fires
    • Smother with blanket or rug to cut off air supply. Use Type B extinguisher for rags, charcoal, liquids/solvents, hair spray/glue and Type A extinguisher for newspapers.

Heating Fires

  • Fireplace Wood Stoves
    • Use only dried woods (less smoke, dirt), never flammable liquids. Dispose of cool ashes in lidded metal container. Never leave fire unattended. When burning, keep damper open, keep flammable material away and glass door/screen closed.
  • Furnaces, Radiators, Water Heaters
    • Install properly and safely away from walls and ceilings. Never put combustibles on or near units. Keep ducts and filters dust-free by cleaning several times a year with unit shut off.
  • How to Fight Small Heating Fires
    • Call the fire department if stove pipe is red or fire is in chimney. For furnaces, radiators, water heaters, immediately shut off. Smother if electrical, only use water/Type A extinguisher if gas fired. Drown fire in fireplace with baking soda, water or Type A extinguisher up chimney.

If you have any questions concerning fire prevention contact:
The Township of Chatham - Fire Prevention Bureau @ 973-635-3211.

 

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