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Safety and Fire Prevention

This page is intended to provide information on how to better protect yourself, your family and your home from the dangers of fire. It also highlights some of the activities of the SMFPA in the areas of fire prevention and education. Find out about year-round safety tips and tools, as well as special events such as open houses and demonstrations.

The U.S. Fire Administration encourages you to remember that many fire deaths and injuries are preventable.

More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 20,000 are injured. Many of them might be alive today if they had only had the information they needed to avoid a disaster. The following life-saving tips could make a big difference. By incorporating them in your habits now, you could help save a life.

Did you know?

  • Eighty-two percent of all fire deaths occur in the home.

  • Electrical fires are a special concern during the winter months, which call for more indoor activities and increased use of lighting, heating and appliances.

  • Deaths caused by winter fires are particularly preventable.

Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates dramatically. Please share them with your neighbors because knowledge is the best fire protection.

Life-Saving Tips

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.

  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, away from combustible surfaces, have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation. Never use flammable liquids (such as gasoline) to start or accelerate fire.

  • Make sure your space heaters have an emergency shut off in case they tip over. Kerosene heaters are not permitted in many areas. ONLY use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot. Refuel outside, away from the house.

  • Have your furnace and chimney professionally inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. Chimney tar build-up is a common cause of chimney fires.

  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks igniting nearby carpets or furniture.

  • Never thaw frozen pipes with a blow torch or other open flame. Use hot water or a UL listed device such as a hand-held dryer.

  • Dispose of hot ashes in metal containers placed away from the house.

  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home.

  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow for easy access.

FEMA Urges Caution When Using Portable Generators

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has joined with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in issuing a warning to consumers confronted by the recent winter weather. When there’s a power outage, exercise caution when using portable generators.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer. You can’t see or smell it. A generator’s exhaust contains poisonous CO which can kill you in a matter of minutes.

Last year, at least 65 people died from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after winter storms knocked out power.

Follow these important generator safety tips:

  • Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.

  • Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. And keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows and vents.

  • Read the label on the generator and the owner’s manual, and follow the instructions.

  • Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.

  • Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.

Last year, CPSC mandated a new danger label on generators manufactured after May 14, 2007. The label states that, "Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."

FEMA and CPSC also caution people to never use charcoal for cooking in the home. Every year individuals lose their lives attempting to cook with charcoal when power is out. Charcoal fires should only be used outside of the home.

For more information, please visit these pages on the CPSC and U.S. Fire Administration Web sites:

Help us to find you

In responding to may emergency calls, we have noticed that there are many homes and businesses which have missing or illegible street numbers. Precious moments are lost when the exact street number cannot be found immediately. Township ordinance requires each address to be clearly marked, and in the case of multiple residences off a single driveway, signs with arrows can save valuable time in an emergency.

Smoke Alarms Missing in Two-thirds of Deadly Residential Fires

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly 3,400 people die each year in fires at home, according to a new study released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's U.S. Fire Administration. Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and FEMA's Director, called the special report, Fatal Fires, "alarming".

"Residential structure fires, the very place people should feel the safest, unfortunately account for the vast majority of fatal fires," said Brown. "What's most worrisome is that in a full two-thirds of these fires, smoke alarms are missing or not working."

Smoke alarms, when present need to be tested frequently and batteries need replacing every six months.

"As we move toward spring with Daylight Savings Time, it's time to change those batteries when you change your clocks. And it's time to do some spring cleaning on your alarm to make sure it works when you need it most," Brown said.

According to the new FEMA report, structure fires accounted for 74 percent of the 3,300 fatal fires in 2002. Of these fatal structure fires, 94 percent occurred in residences. Arson was the leading cause of fatal residential structure fires at 22 percent, followed closely by smoking at 21 percent. There were 3,380 fire-related deaths in 2002, down slightly from other years. The report summarizes some of the major characteristics of fatal fires and is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

"An unacceptable number of Americans are losing their lives and being injured by fires each year," said U.S. Fire Administrator R. David Paulison. "We know that smoke alarms, escape plans, child fire prevention programs, and residential sprinklers save lives. We continue to encourage everyone to take the steps necessary to ensure their homes are fire safe today."

A copy of the report can be downloaded from: FEMA statistics & reports

Links to Fun Fire Safety Sites:

Visit our friend, Smokey Bear    at his very own website.

Visit the Kidde Home Safety Education Center, to see great tips and games for fire safety

Visit the ABC Operation Save a Life site for useful fire prevention information.

Visit Sparky the Fire Dog® game to help children learn about emergency preparedness.

Please Let Us Through - It's the LAW!

Unfortunately, over 100 firefighters are killed in the line of duty each year. What most people don't know is that some of these firefighters are killed before they even reach the scene. These firefighters are killed in tragic and often preventable motor vehicle accidents.

Firefighters, through the years, have been killed while riding to fire scenes on fire apparatus or sometimes even in their own personal vehicles. It has recently become a concern of firefighters all over the country, that the drivers of fire trucks receive adequate training before they drive such vehicles to scenes. In Washington Township, apparatus drivers must undergo an extensive emergency vehicle training course.

We also need your assistance and cooperation to assure that firefighters arrive at the scene safely.

First of all, when there is a fire call in Washington Township, the fire siren will sound 5 times. This should be an indication to you that firefighters will be responding to the station to man the apparatus, and that the trucks will soon be responding to the scene. Although we use extreme caution when responding, there may be some motor vehicle or pedestrian confusion when the firefighters are observed.

Secondly, if you are driving and hear sirens, please pay special attention to the traffic around you and more importantly, behind you. If you observe fire apparatus approaching from behind, please pull over to the side of the road immediately and wait for the truck to pass. Do not attempt to drive faster to avoid pulling over. Even if the truck is several blocks behind you, it makes it safer for us if you pull over right away. It is also important that you do not pull over in an intersection, since you never know when or where the fire truck is going to stop or turn.

The volunteers are issued permits for using blue warning lights on the personal vehicles. When in use, your act of yielding to these vehicles will make our response safer and faster.

Finally, a common danger to firefighters is that very often a vehicle will pull to the side of the road but then immediately pull back after the truck has passed. This is dangerous because often a second piece of apparatus may be directly behind the one you observe. Please check to see that there are no other emergency vehicles responding prior to continuing on your way.

Your assistance in pulling over for emergency apparatus is not only an important safety factor, it's the law. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Law (39:4-92) states: "Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle giving audible signal... the driver of every vehicle shall immediately drive to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right hand edge or curb, clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed". The law further states: "The driver of every vehicle shall not follow any authorized emergency vehicle, traveling in response to an emergency call, closer than 300 feet, or drive nearer to or park the vehicle within 200 feet of any fire apparatus stopped in answer to a fire alarm." Failure to react to an emergency vehicle as described above could result in a summons and fine of up to $500 and 2 points for "Failure to Yield".

Just as importantly, keep in mind that besides being the law, it is the right thing to do. When an emergency vehicle displays its warning lights and siren, it is responding to assist someone who has called for help. This someone could very easily be a loved one, friend, or neighbor. Someday, it could even be you!

The rules are simple. PULL OVER and STOP. Wait until all emergency vehicles have passed. Someone's life could depend on it.

Fire Prevention in the Schools

Every year during Fire Prevention Week, the Schooley's Mountain firefighters visit and work with pre-school, kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders to teach and reinforce key elements of fire safety such as 9-1-1, "Stop, Drop & Roll", don't play with fire. We look to these children to help "teach" their parents about necessary fire safety precautions. If you have a group interested in a tour or presentation, please e-mail us or call the station. To view some photos of one of our annual school visits, click on the thumbnails below.

Building construction

Be alert to the nature of lightweight construction used in many newer homes and businesses, and how it reacts in the event of a fire. Click here for an informative video on the subject. The local photos below also show how quickly collapse can occur, even from a relatively minor fire. Click on each of the thumbnails below for larger images.

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Due to this serious concern, developments built in Washington Township with this type of construction have red triangles attached to the top of the street signs to alert firefighters to the potential added danger in a fire.

This one indicates both floor & roof trusses were used in construction.

Additional Resources

Click here for links to other valuable fire prevention resources.


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