Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 27, 2018

Preventable fires keep firefighters busy

This planned fire, used as a training exercise for recruits in 2015, shows just how devastating a house fire can be. - File photograph by David Laprad

Chattanooga firefighters have been responding to a variety of emergencies, including motor vehicle crashes, medical calls and an assortment of grass, brush and dumpster fires.

Within the past month, Chattanooga firefighters have also responded to six structure fires, each of which could have been prevented by a little common sense. Three of the fires were related to cooking and the other three were started by improperly discarded cigarette butts.

Cooking fires

Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries.

The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop. Also, stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you’re simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you you’re cooking.

Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop. Finally, check the stove before going to bed, making sure every burner is off.

“Make it a habit. Do it every day,” says Chattanooga Fire Department public information officer Bruce Garner.

Careless smoking

Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Smoke alarms, smolder-resistant bedding and upholstered furniture are significant fire deterrents.

Basic precautions include never smoking in bed, never placing ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs and using large, deep ashtrays with wide lips.

“While smaller ashtrays might be more attractive, they’re not safe,” Garner says. “Cigarettes can roll off the edge and the ashes can easily be blown away.”

The CFD also recommends watering down your ashes. Also, empty ashtrays into the toilet or an airtight metal container. Warm ashes dumped in waste cans can smolder for hours and then ignite into fire.

In addition, don’t leave cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended, put out all smoking materials before you walk away, and if you begin to feel drowsy while watching television or reading, extinguish your smoking materials in a safe container.

Finally, replace mattresses made prior to the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, store matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach (preferably in a locked cabinet) and don’t place ashtrays in a location where children or pets could knock them over.

Source: Chattanooga Fire Department