Archive for fire prevention

Working smoke detectors save lives

A seven year old boy from Nanaimo has died after he was overcome by fumes in a fire at his home this past week. A passing RCMP officer spotted the flames and alerted the family. He attempted to reach the boy on the second floor, but was unable to, due to the smoke and heat. Had it not been for the officer noticing the fire when he did, this tragedy would have been even worse.

I understand there was not a working smoke detector at this location. Had there been one the chances are very good that all of the family would have been alerted in ample time to escape.

PLEASE! Check to make sure your smoke detectors are operational, and less than 10 years old. If you can’t afford to buy one, call the Gabriola Fire Department (250-247-9677) and we will give you one.

With today’s cheap smoke detector technology their is no reason for people to die – usually in their sleep from carbon monoxide suffocation – in a fire.

Canada still has an unacceptably high rate of such deaths.

Electrical fire

burned-plugWe recently responded to a page for a structure fire. On arrival we found the house full of acrid plastic smelling smoke. The home owner directed us to the clothes dryer which had smoke rising from behind it. We immediately shut off the electrical breaker, determined that their were no flames present, and pulled the dryer out from the wall. We used our Thermal imaging camera (TIC) to determine that no heat or flames was present in the wall itself.

The problem was caused by a fault in the plug. Possibly the copper conductors inside had been damaged at some point while removing it, possibly by pulling the plug out by the wire.

If any of those copper conducting wires attaching the plug to the cord are broken, the electricity flows through the fewer remaining wires, and the resistance caused by this reduced conductor size generates heat, which can build up and further damage the plug.

Eventually the heat becomes great enough that the plastic starts to melt and / or burn.

If you have a plug or electrical cord that you suspect may be too hot, have it inspected by a qualified person.

Power equipment usage during restrictions

We have received some question regarding power equipment usage during restricted times. Generally speaking these restrictions apply to machines that are likely to cause an issue- chainsaws, lawnmowers, weed-eaters, as well as heavy equipment such as backhoes and excavators.

The BC Forest service issues a list of different types of jobs and their relative risk factors that our department uses as a guideline. Logging, for instance has a high fire risk factor during very dry weather and so it is restricted. Loading those logs onto a truck at a roadside dump is considered a low risk hazard and therefore is allowed. Digging an excavation to build a house in an area already cleared is also low risk, as is running a compactor or generator inside an area like a foundation.

Which brings me back to the original question- skill saws, electric drills, compressors and other such construction tools generally would be a low hazard application, and as long as there isn’t a potential issue created by piled up sawdust or chips -a fuel load- then these should be acceptable to use during restrictions.

If in doubt, please call us, as knowing who is doing what and where is beneficial knowledge to us in the event of a problem or complaint.

Spontaneous combustion in a flower planter

imageRecently a women called the fire dept after she noticed smoke coming from this planter on her deck. Upon closer examination it was evident that there was a lot of heat generated, melting the planter. The planter was full of soil and topped with peat moss. Moist peat moss has been known to spontaneously combust. This is also a danger with damp BBQ briquettes, and of course oily or greasy rags.

(Click image to see a larger version of the photo.)

Cigarette butts and dry grass

image

It’s that time of year again when one careless person can seriously affect everyone’s safety. If you see someone toss a cigarette from a car – or otherwise dispose of one irresponsibly – please take the time to give the licence number to us, or the RCMP. At the present time we are not permitted to use stocks for these situations, but at the very least, a good talking to will be in order.

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