The Unsafe Fire Season

By Tom Kiurski

We are now approaching the unsafe fire season–that part of the year where furnaces kick on, space heaters are in abundance, fireplaces are lit, and there are plenty of candles and cooking. Amidst all the celebrations, many fire departments are out there trying to educate their communities throughout the season. Here is what some of them are doing.

The Keep the Wreath Red program is where fire departments hang out a wreath with red light bulbs on it at Thanksgiving. For each fire incident, they replace one red bulb with a white one. This can serve as a visual reminder to those driving by to keep fire safety in mind during the holiday season.

Many fire departments will hold a Christmas tree burn to show the public just how quickly a tree can ignite and spread fire in a small compartment. Some will have multiple fires, showing the difference between watered trees, dry trees, and artificial trees. You may also see how quickly smoke alarms activate and how effective fire sprinklers can be when installed and operating properly.

Some fire departments will have demonstrations that involve turkey fryers. These items have been responsible for many unwanted fires and injuries, and should be used with caution. Unfortunately, those doing the frying want to be sheltered, which is why many will set garages and wood decks on fire in the process. Any moisture will obviously head to the bottom of the fryer and then expand when converted to steam.

Other campaigns will remind cooks to stay close to the kitchen when cooking, as cooking remains the leading cause of unwanted home fires in America. The holidays are a time when many people do cooking, and mix in socializing, celebrating, and maybe some drinking, which can lead to a disaster.

This is also a big time of year for candle fires. Firefighters must remind citizens to keep candles out of the main path of travel to avoid bumping into them, and that they should be watched over by responsible adults.

There are a number of different ways for you to get the fire safety messages out this time of year, and many topics you can cover. What is your plan?

Tom KiurskiTom Kiurski is training coordinator, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999), is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.


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