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FW: Prevent Fires - Save Lives - Here's How

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  • Groomes, Diane (MPD)
    all - this past weekend there were 11 house fires in the city.... I have asked for the Fire Dept to send us the below information for this past weekends fires
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2010
      all - this past weekend there were 11 house fires in the city.... I have asked for the Fire Dept to send us the below information for this past weekends fires were due to items being too close to the furnaces, space heaters and candles being lit....





      Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor                                                      

      Dennis L. Rubin, Fire Chief


      CONTACT: Pete Piringer, PIO 202.673.3331


      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           

      January 8, 2010





      Prevent Fires - Save Lives - Here's How

      Several Recent Incidents a Cause for Alarm


      Firefighters checking smoke alarms with SAVU - Smoke Alarm Verification and Utilization program

      Homes visited and dozens of smoke alarms and batteries installed


      Six people were killed in a Washington, D.C. house fire on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2009.

      Considering the numbers of deaths and injuries over the year; nationally, January is the peak month for both measures.  Last year (2009) in the District of Columbia, a total of 18 residents died in fires, including nine (9) persons who died in home fires in January alone. The winter months of January and February are typically some the busiest times of the year for firefighters.  Cooking, home heating systems, heating equipment and associated electrical systems, as well as combustibles too close to a heat source continue to be significant factor in structural fires in the District of Columbia. 

      Several days ago on Sunday, January 10, 2010 units from the Washington, D.C. fire and EMS Department responded to the report of a house fire at 823 Somerset Place, NW. A space heater too close to combustibles on a bed caused a fire that displaced a family of five, including four children.  A smoke alarm activated and awoke sleeping occupants.  Damage was estimated to be about $150,000.  Several other recent fires were involved furnaces and fireplaces.

      The U.S. Fire Administration cites the following statistics:

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

      ·         Having a working smoke alarm doubles your chance of surviving a home fire.

      ·         Nearly one-third of the residential fires occur in homes with no smoke alarms.

      ·         About two-fifths of residential fire fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms.

      Regionally, Fire Chiefs are appealing for something to done this week and beyond. “Something has to be done. Somehow, someway, we have to get the word out to people and help people to protect themselves”, said DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin.  Throughout the past year in 2009, Washington, DC firefighters have gone door-to-door checking smoke alarms, changing batteries and talking to residents about fire safety and fire escape plans.  “We now have more protection available for our homes than ever before and yet people are losing their lives because they seem to be not taking this protection seriously. No one thinks a fire can happen in their house”, added Chief Rubin.  This effort will continue in 2010.

      Most recently, on January 1, 2010, one year to the date of one of the most deadly fires in local history, DC firefighters re-visited the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast as part of the SAVU initiative.  Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Fire Chief Rubin joined dozens of firefighters as they went door-to-door checking and installing smoke alarms.  About 50%, or half, of the homes visited need some intervention. Firefighters installed 25 smoke alarms and changed over 50 batteries in several hours.

      Fire Chief Rubin says, “Any loss of life is tragic, but it is even more so when that death could have been prevented. Prevention and home safety first is what needs our focus.”

      The Washington, DC Fire and Emergency Services Department not only offers a free fire safety evaluation of homes and apartment units, but the acclaimed SAVU (Smoke Alarm Verification and Utilization) Program offers assistance in not only testing smoke alarm functionality, but uniformed firefighters will assist occupants changing batteries or installing a smoke alarm free of charge. Also, residents of the District of Columbia can simply call 311 to make a request, if necessary.

      Fire Chief Rubin adds, “This is a busy time of year for firefighters in this region.  The simplest thing a family can do to protect themselves from fire is have a working smoke alarm, on every level of their home, and have fire escape plan.” Having a residential fire sprinkler almost guarantees that your family will survive a fire.

      Some recent incidents resulted in notable damage and major disruption while others were discovered early and were thus managed easily. Human factors, including appropriate and sometimes inappropriate human response to these factors affected the outcomes, some positive and dramatic, others not so good.

      There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead.


      Remember – the message is simple:

      Develop an Escape Plan – Identify two ways out of each room in your home, identify a meeting place for your family outside, practice your plan at least twice a year when you change your clock.  Once Outside – Account for all family members at your designated meeting place, call 911 from a safe location, never go back inside a burning building for any reason.
      Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on each floor of your home, additional smoke alarms can be placed in sleeping and kitchen areas, test your smoke alarms monthly, change the battery when you change your clock twice a year, if your smoke alarms are powered by your homes electrical system consider installing battery powered smoke alarms as a back up in case of a power outage.

      For a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm inspection/installation call 3-1-1 to schedule a time.


      ‘Get Alarmed DC’ – Smoke Alarm Hotline

      3 - 1 - 1


      Kitchen Fires. Most kitchen fires occur because food is left unattended on the stove or in the oven. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, take a spoon or potholder with you to remind you to return to the kitchen. Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves that can ignite easily. Heat cooking oils gradually and use extra caution when deep-frying. If a fire breaks out in a pan, put a lid on the pan. Never throw water on a grease fire. Check appliances for cleanliness and wear and tear.

      Smoking. We prefer that you don’t smoke at all, but if you must - Don't leave smoking materials unattended. Use "safety ashtrays" with wide lips. Empty all ashtrays into the toilet or a metal container every night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed. Don’t smoke when drowsy.

      Candles. Keep burning candles out of children’s and pet’s reach; keep matches and lighters out of sight and locked away. Make sure they are in stable holders. Do not leave candles unattended – especially around children or pets.  Do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire. Make sure you put out candles when you go to bed or leave the home.

      Give space heaters space. Keep young children safely away from space heaters -- especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited. If you use an electric space heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. If you must use an extension cord, only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.


      It is important that all residents know to have a working smoke alarm on each level of a home, have an escape plan (know how to get out quickly) and call the fire department from a safe area, preferably a neighbor’s house.


      Always Remember! If a fire starts in your home GET OUT and call 911 IMMEDIATELY closing the door to the room on fire as you go! DO NOT DELAY as fire doubles in size every minute!





      Washington, D.C.

      Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department

      Protecting "We the People" and other National Treasures




      Pete Piringer

      Chief Spokesperson and Director of Public Information

      District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department

      Washington, DC


      202.673.3331 (office)

      240.372.3749 (cell)

      202.673.3700 (media hotline)


      We are fast, we are well trained and we are nice!





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