Winter Fire Safety Tips from FMBA Local 80

fmbaThe winter season brings about many changes in your home. The Lakewood Career Firefighters, FMBA Local 80 would like to provide you with theses winter fire safety tips.

The heating system kicks on and you prepare for the holidays by decorating and cooking holiday feasts. The winter and holiday season is also the fire season. More than one-third of home fires occur during the months of December, January and February. Most fires and injuries are preventable by taking precautions that can make the difference between a happy and safe holiday or a holiday tragedy.

The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and manmade logs. All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter. 


  • Be sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
  • Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or flammable liquids stored in approved containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling.
  • Refueling should be done outside of the home (outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters-especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.  


Wood stoves and fire places are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.



  • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
  • Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be laboratory tested.
  • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fire place opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.



Keeping warm in your home should fuel concerns for the safety of your family. During the months of December, January and February, home-heating equipment (central heating units, portable and fixed space heaters and fireplaces) is the second leading cause of home fires. The major causes of home heating fires are poorly maintained systems, placing space heaters too close to combustible items and flaws in construction and installation of the heating units.



• Have a qualified technician install all new equipment.

• Have a qualified professional inspect your equipment annually. The inspection will ensure that the system is maintained in proper working order and identify any parts that require repair or replacement.

• Schedule regular cleaning of your boiler, furnace and hot water heater, including the chimney and chimney connectors.

• Have your wood-burning stove or fireplace, including the chimney and connectors, inspected every year by a professional.

• Keep a glass or metal screen in front of fireplace openings to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out.




When purchasing an electric space heater, look for heaters with automatic shut-off features.



Heaters should be placed at least three feet from any combustible material, such as bedding and furniture.

Never use an extension cord with a space heater.

• Inspect the electrical cord for damage before each use.

• Keep young children and pets away from space heaters.

• Only use equipment that has the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Mark.

• Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.

Turn off/unplug the space heater whenever you leave the room or go to sleep.


Test them often to make sure they work.

Replace the batteries at least twice a year when you change your clock for daylight savings. 

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