Winter Fire Safety

February 14, 2019






By Deputy Fire Marshal Tyrone Morgan

Syndicated by: Montana News
In lieu of our fire this morning the Billings Fire Department would like to remind our community members of a few cold weather fire safety tips. Including reminders of carbon monoxide and the usage of fuel fired heaters.

Cold weather fire safety must be a top priority during the winter since heating is a leading cause of home fires. Most home heating fire deaths involved stationary or portable space heaters. The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Keep anything that can burn three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and radiators. Nearly half of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless, and colorless, and can be deadly.


That is why it’s so important to have your home heating systems inspected and cleaned if needed to ensure they’re working properly. Carbon monoxide poisoning could also occur when warming up your vehicle in enclosed spaces, such as, inside an attached garage allowing the gases to enter the home.


To prevent injury or death carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level of the home.

Purchase a heater with the seal of an independent testing laboratory. Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface. Check your space heater for cracked or damaged cords and plugs.


Clutter and debris should be kept clear so that it cannot be placed over the top of cords, causing damage or overheating of the cord. Fuel fired heaters shall be properly ventilated to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning and removed from service if damaged or defective. Kerosene heaters must be refueled outside. Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.


Heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

As the temperatures drop this winter some residences may experience freezing of water pipes in their homes. Others may have avoided frozen pipes due to the routine use of a product commonly referred to as “Heat Tape” an automatic electrical heated cable that is installed on water pipes to prevent freezing.


As a reminder inspect heat tapes each year and replace them if you notice signs of deterioration. Look for discolored surfaces (especially at the plug), charring, cuts or breaks in the insulation, or bare wires, and have a professional install new when needed. Apply heat tapes directly on the pipe to be protected, never on top of the insulation covering the pipe. All new heat tapes should have a 3-prong plug and always plug into a 3-prong outlet to make sure the heat tape is grounded. Check installation instructions when you change types or brands of heat tape because different heat tapes have different installation requirements.

When your work involves a heating source it should not be left unattended. It only takes a few minutes to heat a combustible source of fuel, such as paper, wood, or debris to the point of ignition. The rapid spread of a fire can block your exit from the building and cause several thousand dollars’ worth of damage.




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