Trash, Electrical Hazards in Homes

Trash, Electrical Hazards in Homes

Old threats to home fire safety still outrank all other hazards, Miami firemen find during doorbell-ringing inspection drive

Trash around the house and negligence with electricity are still the chief home fire hazards that can be uncovered by brief inspections, it was revealed by the Miami Fire Department’s latest home fire safety inspection campaign.

But carelessness with smoking and matches— the biggest home fire-hazard—is not so easy to discover, in Miami or elsewhere. This finding from Miami’s house-to-house check last spring is backed up by national statistics.

More than 600 Miami fire fighters rang doorbells at a record 40,982 single-family dwellings during the recent campaign. Inspections were completed at 17,654 homes. While periodic safety inspection is mandatory in Miami apartments, duplexes and commercial buildings, in single-family dwellings it is entirely at the option of the occupant.

Enter by invitation

“In these home inspection campaigns, our firemen never enter a home without being invited,” Miami Chief L. L. Kenney explained. “Most people who are at home when we call are very glad to have our teams look for fire hazards. When nobody is at home, we leave a notice inviting the householder to call the neighborhood fire station and suggest a convenient time. We made hundreds of inspections on the basis of such calls, many of them in the evening and on Saturdays.”

Kenney credits press support with helping his department gain increasing acceptance of voluntary home inspections. The chief himself made several radio tapes for the 1967 campaign. One of Miami’s Spanish-language stations devoted a 30-minute program to the campaign. Special appeals were made to children through the press and schools.

As inspection teams rang doorbells throughout residential areas, an in-service truck was always within one block of the door-to-door “safety salesmen.”

Children reached

“Our men remaining at the trucks made friends with the small fry who always congregated,” said Kenney. “This became one of our most effective avenues for safety education.”

This annual program is credited with helping reduce property losses in Miami from $1.25 million in 1964 to $750,000 in 1966.

“Fire prevention was undoubtedly a major factor in this 40 percent reduction,” Kenney declared. “Miami families are increasingly alert to fire hazards, thanks to our doorbell ringing, year after year.”

Statistical studies of hazardous conditions revealed in previous surveys show no appreciable change from year to year, Kenney commented, “but our fire loss records indicate that our people are more and more inclined to follow our suggestions for correcting those hazards. Our hard work pays off.”

Most numerous hazards

Following, in order of frequency, are the major hazards discovered in the Miami homes inspected this year.

  1. Excessive waste, trash and debris.
  2. Excessive use of extension cords and three-way plugs to overload electrical circuits.
  3. Improper size fuses in lighting circuits.
  4. Combustibles too near stove or heater.
  5. Appliance cords damaged or faulty.
  6. Improperly installed wiring.
  7. Improper storage of flammable liquids.

“But the biggest home fire culprit is still one our men could not discover,” smiled Kenney. “They just could not wait around long enough to observe all the careless smokers and all the children and other people who are careless with matches. They are the ones we find out after the fire.”

Miami F.D. photo.

Homeowners’ attention is directed to fire hazard by Assistant Chief Douglas A. Hewson in this posed photo

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