Fire is Smoke and Gas (Video Parts 1 & 2)

December 1st, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Consumer Protection, Family Safety, Fire Safety | 3 Comments »

While home sick from work today, I was channel surfing the local cable stations, and stopped when I found a compelling fire safety video concerning the dangers of smoke inhalation during a house fire.

I’ve seen a number of fire safety videos, but none as well done as this one. It was so good I actually watched it through to the end to see if I could find out who had produced it to see if it was available online.

With a little bit of help from Google, I found an announcement at the website of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) of Greater New York that has a great deal of background on the documentary. Apparently the series was produced by retired Emmy Award winning science journalist Dr. Frank Field with the help of a grant from the MetLife Foundation.

I also found that someone has uploaded the episode I watched to YouTube in two parts (part 1, part 2) - I’ve embeded them below.

It’s realistic, accurate, compelling, dramatic, and incredibly informative.

The complete collection of “Fire Is…” fire safety videos is also available for purchase at

Fire is Smoke and Gas - Part One

Fire is Smoke and Gas - Part Two

Protecting Your Home From Fires

May 6th, 2010 | Filed under: Electrical, Fire Safety | 1 Comment »

Despite people feeling safest in their homes, this is where most people get injured or die in fires, according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). Nobody imagines there will be a fire in their house until it happens, so it’s vital to take all the precautions, first of all to prevent a fire from occurring, but also, to be prepared if there is a fire (despite your best efforts, you will never be able to make your home 100% fireproof). Following a few simple rules will ensure that the risk of a fire is greatly reduced, but also that you and the people you live with will not be hurt if it does happen.

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Fire safety for your family

February 26th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Consumer Protection, Family Safety, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | No Comments »

Source: Children’s Hospital Boston - by LOIS LEE, MD, MPH

The city of Boston recently celebrated the fact that no citizens within the city died as a result of a house fire in 2009—the first year with no deaths since 1972, when the Fire Department started keeping records about fire-related deaths. It seems to me in 2010 that deaths from house fires should be a phenomenon of an earlier century, but sadly this is not true.

With some of the older type of housing and the various types of heating devices families use to survive the long New England winters, this is an important fact to celebrate. The use of space heaters, the presence of old electrical wiring and living with persons who smoke in the home all increase the risk of a house fire.

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How to Pick a Fire Escape Ladder

February 6th, 2010 | Filed under: Family Safety, Fire Safety | 3 Comments »

Fires start quick and spread even quicker which often leads to panic during a dangerous situation. A well prepared home is the best defense for saving your family during a dire time of need such as a fire. If you live in a multistory home or apartment building then a fire escape ladder is one product you must have for a safe exit. It is very common for a building fire to cutoff access to certain areas including stairways and elevators. Not to mention, it can be very dangerous to use an elevator during a fire since you have no idea where the fire has spread. Here are some tips on picking a reliable escape ladder that will always be there for you during an emergency.

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Doggies fans, sick of their club being kicked around

January 27th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Family Safety, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Workplace Safety | 1 Comment »

like the defiance and aggression. Even football people at other clubs can understand their motivation. “They had to do something,” is another comment I’ve heard several times since Wednesday, when the Giants performed the mother of all recruiting backflips, in response to the Bulldogs’ Boyd Ultimatum (we’ll take Boyd and no one else).

There would be some sort of small flat topped pyramid in the center of the court and surrounding grounds and the King would step up to the top. He announced the winning team and captain. Then he climbed down and strode over to a spherical rock. More than two decades, the NFL has been a leader in addressing the issue of head Wholesale Discount NBA Jerseys injuries in a serious way. Important steps have included major investments in independent medical research; improved medical protocols and benefits, innovative partnerships with the CDC, NIH, GE and others to accelerate progress. NFL Wholesale Discount football Jerseys China just this year reached a $765 million concussion settlement that would provide money for medical exams, concussion related compensation for NFL retirees, and their families.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Kirsch. “You need to have that infrastructure solidly in place to do all these things. With our robust Wi Fi network, we are confident that we can launch our new Game Day app and know that we will not disappoint the 68,000 people at Gillette Stadium,”Cheap NFL Jerseys says Kirsch.

In almost all cases, these costs are so high that, compared to the cost of Discount MLB Jerseys Free Shipping individual airline tickets, they make no economic sense. Even the most intrepid traveler who flies 52 weeks out of the year would spend at most $2,000 per week ($104,000 per year) on airline travel. That amount of money would not even cover the cost of the pilot, not to mention the cost of the plane, fuel, maintenance, support, etc.

Police said the 19 year old performer fell about 30 feet from his apparatus on Oct. 31 and landed in the crowd. A witness told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he bounced off a safety net then landed among the spectators. Concussions used to be described as a brain bruise, but doctors now like to say that it’s a problem with the brain’s function, a problem that can’t be detected by MRI or CT scan. When the brain suddenly slams to a stop, the Cheap Wholesale Baseball Jerseys From China brain’s neurons all fire at once. That surge of energy temporarily messes up the brain’s electrical and chemical signal system, making it hard to think straight..

This amid so much attention to the long term effects on the health of players. The university says it’s taking steps to prevent incidents like that from Wholesale hockey Jerseys Free Shipping happening again. And we have a report this morning from Quinn Klinefelter of member station WDET.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Home Safe

January 6th, 2010 | Filed under: Fire Safety, Home Storage, Safes and Lockboxes, Workplace Safety | No Comments »

Most everyone has some type of valuable that should be kept some place safe. From jewelry to coin collections to important paperwork and more a home safe can be very handy for storing valuable possessions. On the search for the perfect safe for your home you will find an abundant of choices available. Here is a look at some features that you should consider high priority when choosing a safe for your home.

Home safes offer different types of protection. The main choice consumers have is whether to choose a fire proof safe, a burglar proof safe or one that protects from both. Of course within each option there are different degrees of security levels to decide on.

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Fire Prevention Week: Reduce the risk of electrical fires

October 8th, 2009 | Filed under: Fire Safety | 2 Comments »

Each year electrical fires result in millions of dollars in property damage, causing an even higher percentage of damage than fires caused by many other sources, such as unattended cigarettes and candles.

As part of Fire Prevention Week, the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reminds you that many electrical fires can be prevented. Preparation, safety, training, and continuous education are the most important practices a business owner should implement.

Electrical fires consistently rank among the top five causes of commercial building fires involving health clinics and hospitals, manufacturing plants, nursing homes, warehouses, farming operations, bars and restaurants, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

A study by the U.S. Fire Administration found electrical malfunction was the leading cause of 4,065 fires in medical facilities between 2004 and 2006, resulting in more than $34 million in property losses.

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Great Fire Safety Website: Be Fire Smart

July 10th, 2009 | Filed under: Child Proofing, Family Safety, Fire Safety | 6 Comments »

Liberty Mutual’s “Be Fire Smart” site is a great resource for fire safety information, presented in a fun and interactive way. There are separate sections for parents, teachers, and children - covering a variety of fire-safety and prevention topics. On the site you will find information on planning fire escape routes, tips for preventing fires, and other home safety information - most of it interactive or using video.

There are also fun ways to teach kids about fire safety, including:

  • Download and print the Be Fire Smart coloring book.
  • Learn what all of the firefighting gear is called, and what it is used for.
  • Play a game called “How Fast Can You Spot Trouble”.

If you are a parent, be sure to review this information yourself to make sure you know how to keep your home and family safe from fire. Use the teaching tools to help your kids understand important safety tips.  

If you are a teacher, they have a wide variety of teaching materials available to you, including complete lesson plans for fire safety awareness.

Great Site! Way to go Liberty Mutual!

Top 10 Home Safety Tips

April 2nd, 2009 | Filed under: Family Safety, Fire Safety, Senior Safety, Water Heaters | 1 Comment »

1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly. If your smoke alarms are ten years old or more, replace them. If you build or remodel your home, install fire sprinklers.

2. Develop a fire escape plan for your family: Point out two exits from each room, pick a meeting spot outside, and hold a fire drill at least twice a year.

3. Always stay in the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove.

4. Keep all stairways, paths, and walkways well lit. Use railings.

5. Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls, and use a non-slip mat or adhesive safety strips inside bathtubs and showers.

6. Post the National Poison Control Hotline number (1-800-222-1222) and other emergency numbers next to
every phone in your home.

7. Install child locks on all cabinets used to store dangerous items such as poisons, matches, and lighters. Install carbon monoxide alarms.

8. Keep your water heater setting at 120°F or less.

9. Install four-sided pool fencing with self-locking and selfclosing gates. Fencing should completely isolate the pool from the home and be at least five feet high.

10. Constantly supervise children in or near bodies of water such as pools, ponds, bathtubs, toilets, and buckets.

Burning Firewood More Efficiently

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | 3 Comments »

Since 1988 new woodstoves have had to meet federal regulations regarding efficiency and pollution production - resulting in “EPA Approved” stoves that use a variety of methods to lower emissions and increase efficiency. These stoves use advanced design, catalytic combustors, and re-burners to “burn-off” the smoke produced by the initial combustion of wood.

Smoke is wasted fuel from a wood fire - in fact a cleanly burning EPA Approved woodstove operating correctly will give off little more than a transparent vapor cloud - with no real amount of smoke escaping the stove. That’s because the smoke itself is burned within the stove - resulting in better efficiency and greater heat output from the same amount of wood.

The BEST method to increase your woodburning efficiency is to get rid of your old, smokey insert or freestanding woodstove, and properly install one of these newer stoves.

Besides a re-vamp on your appliance, there are a few other things you can do to produce hotter fires, which produce less creosote and smoke, and burn more cleanly with greater heat output.

The single most important factor is the dryness of your firewood. Seasoned firewood contains much less water than “green” firewood - so the fire doesn’t waste it’s energy steaming off the water content, and more heat is available for complete combustion of the smoke. (See FeN #003 about firewood seasoning tips.) Seasoned firewood is easier to start, and will help keep the stove temperatures hot - to lessen the amount of smoke released up the connector pipe.

Another important part of efficient woodburning is to allow plenty of combustion air to enter the stove. Become familiar with the air inlets on your stove - this is usually the best area of the stove to ignite the kindling when first starting your fire. Once the fire is started, give it plenty of air for 15 to 30 minutes - allowing the stove and wood to heat-up and a bed of coals to start forming.

For hot “flash-fires” - intended to give off lower heat levels over several hours - load your stove in a small stack, loose criss-cross fashion, leaving plenty of space for air to flow into and around the stack. You want to get the fire hot and bright. Cut back on the air inlets as the fire progresses - but never enough to smolder the flames. When you have a hot bed of glowing coals, cut the air back enough to keep them hot and radiating heat. Repeat this process as needed to keep the house at the temperature you feel is comfortable.

For extended heating, and when you want to maximize heat output - start your fire like you would the flash fire - and when you get down to a hot bed of coals, load plenty of wood on the sides and on top of the bed of coals, concentrating the heat in a “pocket” of fresh firewood. This will sustain the fire and maximize heat output. Add wood around and over the “pocket” as needed to keep the heat concentrated.

To get a longer-lasting fires - burn your wood from the top-down. This is an ancient method of woodburning in Europe and is “catching on” here in the States. Basically you build your fire up-side down, with the split log base, working progressively smaller sections of firewood in a criss-cross manner to the top where you put you kindling. The only problem is that it’s less common to find the finely split wood needed for the center section of the stack - in America we just cut and split into large sections. Some experienced woodburners are finding the top-down method of burning is much more efficient, with long-lasting burns - a 18 inch stack can burn hot up to 4 hours without needing to be refueled.

Following these simple tips can help increase the efficiency of your woodstove or fireplace, decrease emissions, and warm you longer.

Maintaining Clearance All Winter Long

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | No Comments »

If you heat with wood, hopefully you have already had the system  cleaned and have been using it for a while. It’s easy to get comfortable with the fireplace or woodstove - it almost becomes a friend on those cold winter mornings when it’s cold enough to make you wonder why you want to get out of bed.

It’s possible to become too comfortable - and it only takes one mistake to create a hazardous situation.

One of the most common is the lack of safe clearances around your fireplace or woodstove. Over the weeks, wooden chairs and furniture may work there way closer to the heat source - during use or cleaning.

It’s also possible that newspaper and even fire wood might get stacked too close to the stove or fireplace - or decorative wooden brooms or wreaths are hung around the hearth.

What about that Christmas tree drying out over there - is it too close to the hearth? It will literally explode into flames if it’s too close! Keep it away from the hearth if your going to use the wood burner.

It’s also important not to get all of that wrapping paper in or near the fireplace - it’s a disaster waiting to happen - and you shouldn’t burn the printed paper on purpose - it may give off toxins in the smoke.

The NFPA 211* recommends at least 36 inches of clearance from the front and sides of fireplaces and woodstoves to combustible materials.

Make sure that normal clearance to combustibles is maintained with the installation as well as to objects in the room. I would recommend that the tree be located even farther away - so that if it was knocked over or fell directly toward the heat source it would still be well over 36 inches away.

If you have a furnace in a storage area or utility room - it’s equally important to keep all combustibles well clear of the furnace and it’s vent pipe.

By maintaining clearances, and with regular servicing, you should enjoy many warm winter days near the hearth.

* SOURCE : National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), An American National Standard, ANSI/NFPA 211 August 14, 1992 ; Table 8-6(a) Standard Clearances for Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances

Chimney Sweeping and Folklore

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety | No Comments »

Chimney sweeping is not a very well known nor well understood profession. Americans are generally unaware sweeps really exist. Most Americans who know of sweeps associate chimney sweeping with19th Century England and the most famous of all the sweeps - “Bert”, Mary Poppins’ friend who danced and sang on the rooftops of London.

But chimney sweeping in America is an important industry. There are literally millions of aging and delapidated chimneys across our country, and nobody knows those chimneys better then the people who service and repair them every day.

Lets start at the beginning - with the first sweeps…

17th Century London had a problem with houses catching fire and entire sections of town going up in flames. London’s residents burned wood year round to cook and heat, and had several chimneys on every home.

No one had their chimneys cleaned - no one knew they should.

Soon they discovered the association between dirty chimneys and the proliferation of house fires, and so began the role of the chimney sweep.

In London they used small boys and girls to climb the insides of the chimneys and use their bodies and brushes to knock down the soot and creosote which fueled the chimney fires. They free-climbed up inside of the dangerous chimneys without the help of ladders or ropes, and spent much of their days in the cold darkness breathing the dust and fumes from the soot and creosote.

These climbing boys and girls were very poor, often wearing rags and eating scraps. They answered to a man called a Sweep Master, who work them hard and gave no rewards.

The Irish, on the other hand, had their own ideas of how a chimney should be cleaned. They would tie a goose by the legs and lower it down the chimney. As the bird flapped furiously with its large wings it would knock loose the soot and creosote from the chimney.This practice helped save children from the task, and popularized the saying “The blacker the bird the cleaner the flue!”.

In early America the same problem of chimney fires existed and the early construction materials of mud and wood chimneys allowed the fires to spread even more quickly.

Sweeps were very hard to come by in Colonial America. Chimney sweeps had very low social standing in Europe and the settlers wanted a new start and do better for themselves so no one swept America’s chimneys.

Eventually towns had to offer special contracts and monopolies for sweeps, or use slave children to do the necessary work.

In the early 20th Century, with the advent of oil and gas heating and cooking, the chimney sweeping profession fell by the waist side in America. People no longer used their fireplaces for cooking and heating, instead relying on imported fuels.

That all changed during the energy crisis of the 1970’s. Americans looked to alternatives for heating their homes to help sever their reliance on foreign fuels. They turned back to our own naturally restorable resource of wood for fireplaces, woodstoves, and woodheaters.

With the resurgence of wood burning came the resurgence of chimney sweeping - except chimney sweeping had gone through many changes and has become a safe and profitable profession.

With the use of modern vacuums, equipment, safety devices and products, todays sweeps no longer expose themselves to the dangerous creosote. Powerful vacuums keep the home completely soot and dust free!

And as chimney sweeps cleaned America’s chimneys, they began to see what poor shape many chimneys were in. This led to very modern repair and restoration techniques, space-age materials for relining older and unsafe chimneys, and the advent of a yearly service program to maintain and keep safe the chimneys of those customers who realize the importance of sweeping.

Todays gas burning appliances have specific venting requirements whichare rarely met upon installation and the chimney sweep industry hasonce again taken up the slack and developed high-tech relining materials to properly match todays high efficiency furnace with their outdated chimneys.

Chimney sweeps remain a relied upon member of the community in Americaand Europe. Unlike in America, yearly chimney cleaning and inspectionsare often required by European law. In America it is “buyer-beware”,and the responsibility is left to the homeowner.