Drill of the Week: Shed Fires

At your next drill night, consider discussing the following.

Here is something to think about. The next time you respond to a shed fire, you may find someone sleeping inside. Recently, an engine company responded to reported smoke issuing from an aluminum shed. Once on scene, the firefighters found a small fire inside an 8 foot x 8 foot shed in the rear of a mobile home.

Once the fire was knocked down, firefighters found evidence of someone living inside the shed. There was a bed, table, chairs and a cooler with food inside. A single extension cord ran from the mobile home to the shed to power the space heater, which inadvertently started the fire.

The power cord was crimped in the door jamb and was almost severed which would have energized the metal shed. This posed a significant possibility of injury to firefighters and inspectors. The single 110-V extension cord was wired into a junction box and powered a light bulb, a space heater, radio, television and fan. The junction box was also hanging precariously from the center of the shed roof.

If you respond to a reported shed fire, think about this incident and consider these tips.

  • Homeless people will literally seek shelter out of the elements in any location. Be cognizant that some people may take shelter in a tool shed and live comfortably for many months with just a 110-V extension cord as a power source.
  • Look for signs of heavy foot traffic from the main building to the shed.
  • Look for signs of electricity such as the extension cord leading to the main building.

If you come across this, many jurisdictions do not allow for this and a zoning inspector or fire marshal should be called. Be aware of electrical modifications in place that were not installed by a certified electrician. And disconnect the power source as soon as you can once it is identified before entering the structure.

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