Fire Safety Week Pt. 1

By Frank Lewis -

Oct. 9-15 is Fire Safety Week, a good time to sit back and take inventory of all the ways you can prevent fires at your home or business. One of the people on the front lines of the battle against fires is Pete Gemperline, chief of the Rosemount Fire Department.

“This time of year you’ve got your leaves falling,” Gemperline said. “Outdoor burning needs to be restricted. From 6 in the evening to 6 in the morning, is the time that you’re allowed to burn.”

Gemperline said even if you burn during the specified hours there are precautions you should always take.

“Keep the fires low, maintain them, stay with them all the time,” Gemperline said.

Before you turn your furnace on for the first time, Gemperline said an inspection is a must.

“They should have them serviced,” Gemperline said. “Have qualified HVAC folks come in and check their flues. If they’re gas powered, that’s very important because they can produce carbon monoxide. Keep up with their filter changes. Have their flues inspected so they’ll vent correctly.”

Gemperline said if you have a gas-powered furnace or cooking stove, you should have a carbon monoxide detector in full operation. He said the same goes for woodburners.

“Again, venting is very important,” Gemperline said. “They do produce carbon monoxide, so they should make sure that their flues have been inspected.”

Gemperline also warned about placing combustibles anywhere need a furnace or fireplace.

“Don’t put combustibles anywhere near any woodburning or flame type heat,” Gemperline said. “Keep things at least 30 inches from any woodburning furnaces or stoves.”

Another tip is “don’t overheat.”

“Don’t put too much wood in your woodburner,” Gemperline said. “If you have an aged house with a masonry chimney, overheating it can crack and hurt the structural component of your chimney. Do a chimney sweep to make sure there’s no creosote build-up in your chimney. A hot fire can ignite that creosote inside your chimney, and then if you have any kind of a crack, the fire inside the chimney can get through and get into the structure.”

Another issue this time of year is the use of portable heaters.

“Make sure, again, you don’t have any combustibles close to them – keep them away from draperies, furniture. Don’t set combustibles near them,” Gemperline said. “If you’re going to be using an open flame style heater like a kerosene heater, make sure that it’s buring clean. Make sure youo have carbon monoxide detectors and use them sparingly. Don’t live by them.”

Gemperline spoke for all members of all fire departments in this area and all across the world – “Our goal is for everybody to be safe.”

This is the first in a series of stories informing the public as to how to be prepared for winter as far as their heating apparatuses are concerned and how to practice fire safety in everything they do.

By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.