by Glennis Drew
During 2016 Vermont fire departments reported responses to over 45,000 emergency incidents.
Residential properties account for the majority of Vermont structure fires and civilian fatalities. Last year emergency incident reports submitted by local fire departments showed that there were 253 chimney or flue fires, and 338 building fires.
Heating appliance and cooking fires in Vermont continue to be the leading causes of structure fires. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was failure to clean creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment chimneys. The long cold Vermont winters put added stress on all heating systems.
The Vermont Department of Public Safety has supplied the following Fall Fire Safety Messages:
- In any season, working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives, Smoke and CO alarms should be installed and maintained in every home. Make sure you replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or any smoke alarm that does not respond properly during a test.
- Develop and practice a home escape plan and have an outside meeting place for your home occupants (something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox). You should have a plan for anyone who may need assistance in your home, such as young children, older adults and people with disabilities.
- All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from heating equipment.
- Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
- In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. Not only is it cleaner for the environment, it also creates less buildup in the chimney.
- Ashes cleaned out from the stove or fireplace should be shoveled into a metal bucket with a metal lid, placed outside, on the ground, away from the building.
No matter how careful you are with home heating, you and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes.