Fighting a fire

Firefighters battle a recent blaze in Hannibal. The Fulton Fire Department offered several tips and safe practices to follow to help prevent home fires. In the event of a fire, working smoke alarms and rehearsed family escape routes are keys to making sure everyone gets out safely.

FULTON — After a rash of fires across Oswego County in the last two months, the Fulton Fire Department is continuing to educate the public on ways to prevent tragedy.

According to a report from Oswego County Fire Coordinator Donald Forbes, there were more than 130 structure fires in 2019, but there were 21 in the first 27 days of 2020. That number includes fatal fires in Pennellville and Mexico.

Kevin Niver, the department’s fire prevention and community risk reduction coordinator, said he believes many fires could be preventable. Niver started in the kitchen.

“There are so many causes of fires but one of the most common … in the United States is cooking fires,” Niver said. “These are easily preventable by safe cooking habits and awareness in the kitchen.”

Keep anything that can catch fire — such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packages, towels and curtains — away from the stovetop.

Also, when cooking, keep an eye on what is frying, stand by any pan in use, wear short sleeves or roll sleeves up, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, and keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby in case a pan catches on fire.

Niver also warned about proper use of space heaters. There should be a three-foot radius around the heater, and it should be turned off when the person leaves the room.

Niver also reminded people to properly clean and maintain their chimneys to prevent fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, half of all home-heating fires occur in December, January and February.

If there is a fire, the Fulton Fire Department knows working smoke alarms can help save lives.

“Working smoke alarms give you the best opportunity to get out during a fire,” Niver said.

If you sleep with the bedroom door closed, put smoke alarms inside the bedroom and outside of each separate sleeping area.

“You should always follow the manufacturer specifications on where to install a smoke alarm,” Niver said. “It is also suggested to check all of your smoke and C/O alarms regularly to make sure they are in working condition and within 10 years of age.”

Finally, Niver wants all families to come up with plans in case of an emergency in their home.

“Practice makes perfect,” Niver said. “Come up with scenarios with your family on where a fire would be and how you would get out in that situation. Have a safe meeting place where everyone would go during an emergency so when the fire department arrives we can be told that everyone is out of the house and accounted for.” 

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