From the Firehouse: May 2021

From the Firehouse by Jack Halchak, Past Chief HFD

The Hurleyville Fire Department is always looking for help, to fight fire or support those that do. We even supply all of the gear and provide all of the training needed, for free. Stop by any Monday night and find out how you can help.

Remember that the New York State “Burn Ban” is in effect until May 14th. There is no open burning of any kind. Why, you may ask? Before everything greens up, the ground can be extremely dry. Even as the undergrowth starts to get green the surface can be dry. It doesn’t take much to start a brush fire from a burn barrel or a pile of burning brush. A little wind and one ember is all it takes. Even after the “Burn Ban” is lifted you need to use caution on dry, windy days. This season was a bit crazy. Nice days in the high sixties and then rain and snow flurries. Just about every nice day there were numerous brush fires through the county. Some of these brush fires spread to the homeowner’s shed and house. Use some common sense.

Last month I wrote about what to do after a fire. What about before a fire? As a homeowner, do you have enough insurance on you home and contents? As a renter, do you have renter’s insurance? Talk to your insurance company about improvements you may have made to your home.
Have you ever inventoried your high value possessions? Do you store one of a kind documents in a fire proof box? Does your insurance company want a list of you inventory? What do you need to prove to the insurance company that you own a diamond ring, valuable paintings, and items in your garage etc.?

Prevention is the best course of action. But, unfortunately, fires do happen.
Here are some tips to consider:
• Install the right number of smoke/CO detectors in your home. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
• Teach children what smoke/CO alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
• Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your
• Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
• Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must
get out.
• Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
• Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
These are only a few helpful hints. Common sense is the best course of action.

I have been busy the past few weeks with structure fires, brush fires and rescue calls. I have made a number of observations while on these calls.

Do you leave devices plugged into the charger even after they are charged? Read the manufacturer’s recommendation on the device to see when to take it off of charge. Some devices can over heat over time and start a fire. I was using an old lap top because it had a camera for a zoom meeting and I was surprised how much heat the interior fan was pushing out. Left plugged in for an extended period of time could create a problem. Remember when cooling pads for laptops were sold? There was a reason.

Had a couple of fires this heating season where the homeowner used a plastic bucket for the woodstove ashes stored in the garage, an uncovered bucket of woodstove ashes up against a shed on a windy day, or woodstove ashes just dumped outside the door of the home. All did not have a good ending.

Use some common sense out there and Be Safe.