Fire Marshal / Emergency Management Coordinator
(215) 357-7300 x348
(215) 357-7300 x342
Assistant Fire Marshal
(215) 357-7300 x317
(215) 357-7300 x349
Fire Marshal Secretary
(215) 357-7300 x311
U & O Fire Inspections
Fire Alarm Inspections
Fire Safety Training
Investigate Cause and Origin of Fires
Fire Safety Inspections of Residential Properties
Tank Installation and Removal
Annual Fire Safety Inspections of Commercial Businesses
Fire Lane Enforcement
Respond with Fire Company
Fire Extinquisher Training
OTHER SERVICES . . .
Every year, Americans look forward to summer time fun with picnics, family reunions and parties, and it also brings fires and injuries due to outdoor grilling.
U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Data Center estimates that yearly, outside grills cause more than 6,000 fires and over 5 fatalities with more than 200 injuries. Gas grills alone cause over 2,700 fires and 80 injuries. Most of the gas grill fires and explosions were caused by gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks.
The following is a list of useful safety measures for barbeque safety.
- Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and fuel line and make sure the venturi tubes – where air and gas are mixed – are not blocked.
- Do not overfill the propane tank.
- Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbacue.
- Be careful when using lighter fluid, and NEVER add lighter fluid to a lit barbacue.
- Keep all matches and lighters away from children,
- Supervise children around outdoor grills.
- Dispose of hot coals properly – douse with plenty of water. Make sure the fire is out.
- Never dispose hot coals in plastic, paper, or wooden containers
- NEVER grill in an enclosed area – carbon monoxide could be produced.
THINK SAFETY ALL YEAR ROUND.
REMEMBER TO TEST SMOKE DETECTORS BATTERIES EVERY MONTH.
In 1995, 3640 Americans died in home fires. That’s roughly 10 people a day. Tens of thousands more were injured. People can survive even major fires in their homes if they are alerted to the fire and get out quickly and stay out.
HOW TO SURVIVE.
- Install Smoke detectors and keep them in working order.
- Make as escape paln and “practice” it.
- Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE. Once a fire has started, there is no time to plan how to get out. Sit down with your family today, and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.
Draw a Floor Plan of your Home, marking two ways out of every room – especially sleeping areas. Discuss the escape routes with every member of your household.
Agree on a meeting place, where every member of the household will gather outside your home after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside the burning building.
Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be the monitor, and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.
Make your exit drill realistic. Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire, and practice alternative escape routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that some excape routes are filling with smoke.
BE PREPARED. Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars need to be equipped with quick-release devices, and everyone in the household should know how to use them.
If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. NEVER use an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning. Some high-rise buildings may have evacuation plans that require you to stay where you are and wait for the fire department.
If you live in a multi-story house and you must escape from an upper story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground, such as a fire-resistant fire escape ladder. Make special arrangements for children, older adults and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
Test doors before opening them.
While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and with the back of your hand touch the door, the knob, and the crack between the door and its frame. If you feel any warmth at all, use another escape route. If the door feels cool, open it with caution. Put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be prepared to slam it shut if there is smoke or flames on the other side.
If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a light colored cloth. If there is a phone in the room, call the fire department and report exactly where you are.
GET OUT FAST . . .
In case of a fire, don’t stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place, and then call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone, a portable phone, or an alarm box. Every member of your household should know how to call the fire department.
Crawl low under smoke.
Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use an alternative escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches (30 – 60 centimeters) above the floor.
. . . and stay out
Once you are out of your home, don’t go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the firefighters have the best chance of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering. Firefighters have the training, experience, and protective equipment needed to enter burning buildings.
Play IT Safe
Smoke Detectors. More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night while people are asleep. Smoke detectors sound an alarm when a fire starts, waking people before they are trapped or overcome by smoke. With smoke detectors, your risk of dying in a home fire is cut nearly in half. Install smoke detectors outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. Follow installation instructions carefully, and test smoke detectors monthly. Change all smoke detector batteries at least once a year. If your detector is more than 10 years old, replace it with a new one.
Automatic fire-sprinkler systems.
These systems attack a fire in its early stages by spraying water only on the area where the fire has begun. Consider including sprinkler systems in plans for new construction and installing them in existing homes.
NOW, use what you’ve learned,
SET UP YOUR PLAN, including two ways out, a meeting place and
CONDUCT A PRACTICE DRILL to determine if anything has been overlooked.
EVERYONE in the household NEEDS TO PARTICIPATE for it to be successful.
It may SAVE YOUR LIFE.
From 1999-2003, electrical distribution and lighting equipment were involved in an estimated 19,100 reported home structure fires per year. These fires resulted in 140 civilian deaths, 610 civilian injuries and an estimated $349 million in direct property damage per year.
Facts and Figures
- Fixed wiring, switches, receptacles and outlets account for the largest share (45%) of fires among major types of electrical distribution equipment, and account for the largest share of civilian fire deaths and injuries.
- Some type of electrical failure is the leading factor contributing to ignition in every group of electrical distribution equipment products except lighting.
- Extension cord fires outnumbered fires beginning with attached or unattached power cords by more than two-to-one.
Source: Electrical Distribution and Lighting Equipment Involved in Home Structure Fires, by Erin R. Twomey and Marty Ahrens, October 2006.
NFPA Safety Tips
1. Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
2. Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
3. In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.
4. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
6. Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
7. If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
8. When possible, avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
9. Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.
What to Do Before a Thunderstorm.
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
The following are guidelines for what you should do if a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
- Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
Avoid the following:
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
- Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February, and trails only cooking equipment in home fires year-round.
Facts and Figures
- In 2003, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,200 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 260 civilian deaths, 1,260 civilian injuries, and $494 million in direct property damage.
- In 2003 heating equipment fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires (second behind cooking) and 8% of home fire deaths.
- Space heaters, excluding fireplaces, chimneys, and chimney connectors, were involved in 26% of the home heating fires but 73% of the deaths.
- Excluding small confined fires, heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, is by far the leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) and home heating fire deaths (50%).
- Chimneys and chimney connectors accounted for the largest share (40%) of home heating fire incidents. Failure to clean accounted for over half (59%) of the confined chimney and chimney connector fires.
- The peak months for home heating fires are December, January and February, accounting for 43% of the fires.
- When buying a new space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory and is legal for use in your community. (Some communities do not permit portable kerosene heaters, for example.)
- Install your stationary (fixed) space heater according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes or better yet, have it installed by a professional.
- Plug your electric-powered space heater into an outlet with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Use the proper grade of the proper fuel for your liquid-fueled space heater, and never use gasoline in any heater not approved for gasoline use. Refuel only in a well-ventilated area and when the equipment is cool.
- In your fireplace or wood stove, use only dry, seasoned wood to avoid the build-up of creosote, an oily deposit that easily catches fire and accounts for most chimney fires and the largest share of home heating fires generally. Use only paper or kindling wood, not a flammable liquid, to start the fire. Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.
- Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Allow fireplace and wood stove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from your home.
- Turn off space heaters whenever the room they are in is unoccupied or under circumstances when manufacturer’s instructions say they should be turned off. Portable space heaters are so easy to knock over in the dark that they should be turned off when you go to bed, but make sure your primary heating equipment for the bedrooms is sufficient to avoid risks to residents from severe cold.
- Do not use your oven to heat your home.
- Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, that the venting is kept clear and unobstructed, and that the exit point is properly sealed around the vent, all of which is to make sure deadly carbon monoxide does not build up in the home.
- Inspect all heating equipment annually, and clean as necessary.
- Test smoke alarms monthly; install a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.
- Saving energy isn’t just about saving money for homeowners. Saving energy is beneficial on a global scale. The world is facing dwindling energy reserves, and the more we save, the better our future will be. Here are some things you can do.
- Set thermostats at 68°F (20°C) when the house is occupied during the day and then turn it down at night or when you’re not home (60°F (15°C) is recommended). There are programmable thermostats that you can buy from local hardware and lumber stores that can do this automatically and easily. They are inexpensive, reliable and easy to install. This would not be recommended for “heat pump” systems if it would cause auxiliary heating to come on.
- Make sure supply and return vents, radiators and baseboard heating units are not obstructed by furniture, appliances or other objects and that air can flow freely to and from them. This will maximize the efficiency of your system and help distribute warm air throughout the room.
- Clean or change furnace filters in forced hot air systems once a month or more often as needed.
- Have your heating system maintained and serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually once a year). Dirty filters, coils and fans reduce airflow throughout the system, which decreases performance and can damage your system. Scheduling your service in the early fall when technicians are not as busy will probably save you money as well.
- Check heating ducts for air leaks from joints and holes. Check with your local hardware store for the proper listed mastic or tape to use for the particular job.
- Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating jacket according to manufacturer recommendations. Some newer tanks already are insulated, so check product literature to determine if insulation is needed. Insulate the first six feet of the hot water pipes connected to the water heater.
- You can turn down the thermostat in rooms that have all of the following: are unoccupied; can be closed off (closed doors) from the rest of the house; and have their own heating zone. However, do not do this if it adversely affects the rest of your system or could lead to freezing water pipes.
Windows & Doors
- Install caulking, weather stripping or use spray-in foams around exterior windows and doors or those between heated and unheated spaces (garages, basements, crawl spaces, attics). Read instructions for spray foams carefully. Expanding foams can exert enough pressure to cause doors and windows to jam or stick.
- During the heating season, keep draperies and shades open during the day on your southern facing walls to allow sunlight to enter. Keep them closed at night to reduce heat loss and the chill or “draft” you may feel from cold windows.
- Did you know that your kitchen or bath fan can pull out a houseful of heated air in just one hour?
- Turn off all fans as soon as they have done the job. Consider installing a timer switch instead of a manual switch to limit the unnecessary.
Although the popularity of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms has been growing in recent years, it cannot be assumed that everyone is familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.
Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Facts and Figures
- According to the National Safety Council, 200-300 unintentional-injury deaths a year are due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim’s health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body’s ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.
- A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million (ppm) is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.
- 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.
- 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.
- 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure.
- 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
- 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
- 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.
- 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.
- 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.
- 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.
NFPA SAFETY TIPS
Inside the home
- Install CO alarms (listed by an independent testing laboratory) inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO.CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area. If bedrooms are spaced apart, each area will need a CO alarm.
- Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds. Post that number by your telephone(s). Make sure everyone in the household knows the difference between the fire emergency and CO emergency numbers (if there is a difference).
- Test CO alarms at least once a month and replace CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms.
- Have fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood and coal stoves, space or portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
- When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by an independent testing laboratory.
- When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- When buying an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.
Outside the home
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle, generator, or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- Only use barbecue grills – which can produce CO – outside. Never use them in the home, garage or near building openings.
- When camping, remember to use battery-powered lights in tents trailers, and motor homes.
- If your CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location and call for help. Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel say it is ok.
- If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries or other trouble indicators.
During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
Only use barbecue grills – which can produce CO – outside. Never use them in the home, garage or near building openings.
When camping, remember to use battery-powered lights in tents trailers, and motor homes.
Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Most cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common household items (e.g., food or grease, cabinets, wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.).
Facts and Figures
- Between 1999-2002, there were 114,000 reported home fires associated with cooking equipment every year, resulting in an annual 290 deaths and 4,380 injuries.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
- Three in 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen — more than any other place in the home.
- Two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove.
- Electric ranges or stoves have a higher risk of fires, injuries and property damage, compared to gas ranges or stoves, but gas ranges or stoves have a higher risk of fire deaths.
NFPA COOKING SAFETY TIPS
- Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet (1 meter) around the stove. Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking. Also, keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto burner.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
- If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from microwaved food carefully to prevent steam burns.
An estimated 17,200 home structure fires started by candles were reported to local fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 200 civilian deaths, 1,540 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $200 million. Homes include dwellings, duplexes, manufactured housing and apartments.
Facts and figures
- The estimated number of home candle fires fell 6% from 2003 to 2004.
- The number of reported home candle fires has finally started to fall after climbing steadily from 1990 to 2001.
- Candle fires accounted for an estimated 4% of all reported home fires.
- Thirty-eight percent (38%) of home candle fires started in the bedroom, resulting in 35% of the associated civilian deaths.
- Reported home candle fires is roughly two-and-a half times that of the 6,800 low reported in 1990.
- December had almost twice the number of home candle fires of an average month.
- More than half (54%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle; The candle was unattended or abandoned in 20% of the incidents; Four percent were started by people (usually children) playing with candles.
- Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 25% of the associated deaths.
- Christmas Day was the peak day of the year for home candle fires. Christmas Eve ranked second and New Year’s Day was third.
NFPA Safety Tips
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles at least 1 foot away from things that can catch fire, like clothing, books and curtains.
- Use candle holders that are study, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
- During power outages, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights.
- NFPA discourages the use of candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.