Fire safety experts explain possible reasons for fires during winter months

Local News

As the temperature drops, the potential for a house fire goes up. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the second leading cause of fires in homes across the United States. 

“The most important thing to remember is that, what is your or your loved ones life worth,” Senior Firefighter, Williston Fire Department Prescott Nadeau said. 

Nadeau said space heaters are an extreme hazard for fires.

“People don’t often think of them as a fire hazard immediately and so they will often let flammable material get well within that three foot radius,” Nadeau said. 

Nadeau said it’s important to remember you shouldn’t plug a space heater into an extension cord.

“Because they are meant to only be temporary, the wire can begin to wear out and also they are not designed to hold that electrical load for months and months at a time,” Nadeau said. 

Another hazard during this time is chimneys. The general recommendation for chimneys to be cleaned is once a year but this depends on how much you are burning.  

“Because you got it cleaned last year doesn’t mean that some of that material has not built up in cracks or areas of your chimney that could cause a fire this year,” Nadeau said. 

The Chief of South Burlington Fire and EMS, Terry Francis said they have seen a slight uptick in calls that are heat related.

“The fire calls tend to be mostly because of overloaded electrical outlets, that accounts for about 40% rise in fires in the country, we mimic that,” Francis said. 

Francis said and when they respond to calls like these they often get this common response. 

“I didn’t think it would happen to me, you get in a car crash, I didn’t think it would happen to me, you get COVID, I didn’t think it was going to happen to me, all of these things happen to use as human beings and we need to be prepared for them,” Francis said.  

Nadeau said another safety tip for every season, but winter especially is to make sure you have a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector on every single level of your home.

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