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"When Fire Strikes, Get Out And Stay Out!"
- Make sure you have a working smoke detector on every level
of your home.
- Plan your escape – know at least 2 ways out.
- Practice home fire drills.
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
- Different Types Of Smoke Detectors:
- Ionization smoke alarms have a small amount of
radioactive material between two electrically charged plates
which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the
plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow
of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating
- Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a
sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. If smoke
enters the chamber, it causes light to reflect onto the
light sensor which then triggers the alarm.
- Both types of technologies have improved home fire
- Smoke detectors are available that contain both
ionization- and photoelectric-type alarms. The benefits of
having both types of detection in one alarm are:
- Ionization smoke detection is generally more
responsive to flaming fires and
- Photoelectric smoke detection is generally more
responsive to smoldering fires.
- Installing Smoke Alarms:
- Install smoke alarms in each level of your home,
including the basement.
- Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm outside of
the sleeping areas.
- Mount the smoke alarm high on the ceiling or walls.
- Ceiling mounted smoke alarms should be at least 4" from
the nearest wall.
- Wall mounted smoke alarms should be at least 4" to 12"
from the ceiling.
- Pitched ceilings: install the smoke alarm near the
highest point on the ceiling.
- Do not install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or
ducts where their operation may be affected by air currents
- Test your smoke alarms monthly.
- Replace your smoke alarm batteries regularly. The rule of
thumb is "when you change your clock for daylight savings,
change your smoke alarm battery."
- Replace smoke alarms at least 10 years old and older with
- Regularly vacuum or dust your smoke alarm.
- Do not paint or place any type of stickers on smoke alarms.
- Never disable your smoke alarm; not even temporarily.
Consider Installing Automatic Sprinkler Systems
Contrary to what many Americans think, we are not at greatest
risk from fire in hotels or other public places; it is at home,
where most of us feel the safest, that we are actually at highest
risk of fire. Hotels, in fact, are among the places that are safest
from fire, and that is due in large part to the fire protection
technology required for them. That technology typically includes
automatic fire sprinklers.
In a home fire sprinkler system, a network of piping filled with
water under pressure is installed behind the walls and ceilings, and
individual sprinklers are placed along the piping to protect the
areas beneath them. Because the water is always in the piping, the
fire sprinkler system is always “on call.” If fire breaks out, the
air temperature above the fire rises and the sprinkler activates
when the air temperature gets high enough. The sprinkler sprays
water forcefully over the flames, extinguishing them completely in
most cases, or at least controlling the heat and limiting the
development of toxic smoke until the fire department arrives. Only
the sprinkler(s) nearest the fire activate. Smoke will not activate
Sprinklers are so effective because they react so quickly. They
reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they
dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing
people the time to evacuate the home. Home fire sprinkler systems
release approximately 10-25 gallons of water per minute. In a home
without sprinklers, a fire is likely to grow to dangerous levels by
the time the fire department is able to arrive.
In less time than it typically takes the fire department to
arrive on the scene, sprinklers contain and even extinguish a home
fire. That not only reduces property damage, it saves lives. Home
fires account for 80% of all fire deaths.
Unfortunately, there are many stubborn misconceptions about home
fire sprinklers that make some homeowners reluctant to install
sprinklers in their homes. These are the facts:
- It is extremely rare for sprinklers to operate accidentally.
In a typical home, water damage will be considerably less from
unwanted sprinkler discharges than from other plumbing mishaps.
- Cigar smoke and burned toast cannot cause a sprinkler to
operate. Only the high temperature that results from a fire will
activate the sprinkler.
- All the sprinklers do not activate at once. This scenario
may be common in movies and TV shows, but it just isn't true for
residential fire sprinkler systems. Only the sprinkler closest
to the fire activates. 90% of the time, one sprinkler contains
Home fire sprinklers give you added protection from fire and
peace of mind. Although most state and local codes do not require
sprinkler systems in all homes, NFPA encourages the use of home fire
sprinkler systems. Ask your builder about installing sprinklers in
your home. Free information for both builders and homeowners is
available by contacting the nonprofit Home
Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
Plan Your Escape
Developing and practicing a home fire escape plan that everyone
understands can mean the difference between life and death. Fire can
grow and spread through your home very quickly. It's important that
you be prepared to react as soon as the smoke alarm sounds. Nearly
half (44%) of American households who made an estimate thought they
would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would
become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only
8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get
These tips can help you put together – and practice – an
effective home fire escape plan.
- Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan.
Draw a floor plan of your home showing two ways out of each
room, including windows.
- Don't forget to mark the location of each smoke alarm.
- Test all smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they work.
Replace batteries as needed.
- Make sure that everyone understands the escape plan and
recognizes the sound of the smoke alarm. Are the escape routes
clear? Can doors and windows be easily opened?
- If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make
sure that the bars have quick-release mechanisms on the inside
so they can be opened immediately in an emergency.
- Practice the escape plan both day and night at least twice a
year, making sure that everyone is involved – from kids to
- Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice
before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The
objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children
there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective
as a surprise drill.
- If children or others do not readily awaken to the sound of
the smoke alarm, or if there are infants or family members with
mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to
assist them during the fire drill and in the event of an
- Agree on an outside meeting place where everyone can meet
after they've escaped. Remember to get out first, and then
call for help.
- Never go back inside until the fire department gives the OK.
- Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number 911. That
way any member of the household can call from a cellular phone
or a neighbor's home.
- If you live in an apartment building, make sure that you're
familiar with the building's evacuation plan. In case of a fire,
use the stairs, never the elevator.
- Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm
sounds, get out immediately. And once you're out, stay out –
leave the firefighting to the professionals!
Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire
escape plan. When visiting other people's homes, ask about their
escape plan. If they don't have a plan in place, offer to help them
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Children And Fires
Children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and thousands
of injuries each year. Preschoolers are most likely to start these
fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters. Most of the
people killed in child-playing fires are under 5, and such fires are
the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers. Just over half
of child playing fires in the home start in a bedroom. Follow these
fire prevention tips to decrease the chances of your child starting
- Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and
sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for
- If your child expresses curiosity about fire or has been
playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches and
lighters are tools for adults only.
- Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features,
and store them up high in a locked cabinet.
- Teach young children to tell an adult if they see matches or
- Teach school-age children to bring any matches or lighters
to an adult.
- Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place
where children may go without supervision.
If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or
unduly fascinated with fire, get help immediately. Your local fire
department, school, or community-counseling agency can put you in
touch with experts trained to help. An additional resource for
parents of fire starters is "Straight Talk" – a program offered
through the University of Michigan’s Trauma Burn Center. For more
information, you can visit
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Leading Causes Of Structure Fires
2002-2005 Annual Averages Reported By The NFPA
Direct Property Damage
|Confined chimney or flue fire
|Confined fuel burner or boiler
distribution or lighting equipment
|Confined or Contained
trash or rubbish fire
* "Homes" are defined as dwellings, duplexes, manufactured homes
(mobile home), apartments, row houses, townhouses, and
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Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire
- In 2005, U.S. fire departments responded to 146,400 home
structure fires that involved cooking equipment.
- These fires caused:
- 480 civilian fire deaths,
- 4,690 civilian fire injuries (59% of the injuries
occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire
- $876 million in direct property damage.
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
Most cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common
household items such as food or grease, cabinets, wall coverings,
paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc. Three in every ten reported
home fires start in the kitchen – more than any other place in the
home. Follow these safety tips when cooking:
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g.
potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a
“kid-free zone” of three feet (1 meter) around the stove.
- Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when
cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch
- Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if
the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small
fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and
smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan.
Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely
- Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire
extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning
grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the
door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your
- If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and
unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to
have the oven serviced before you use it again.
- Carefully remove the lids or other coverings from food
prepared in the microwave to prevent steam burns.
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Electrical distribution equipment (i.e., wiring, switches,
outlets, cords and plugs, fuse and circuit breaker boxes, lighting
fixtures, and lamps) was the third leading cause of home fires and
the second leading cause of fire deaths in the United States between
1994 and 1998. Keep these electrical safety tips in mind:
- Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical
- Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under
- In homes with small children, electrical outlets should have
plastic safety covers.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for plugging an
appliance into a receptacle outlet.
- Avoid overloading outlets. Consider plugging only one
high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
- If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and
have them checked by an electrician.
- When possible, avoid the use of "cube taps" and other
devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a
- Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can
burn and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.
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Smoking Related Fires
Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the
leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Roughly one of
every four fire deaths in 2005 was attributed to smoking materials.
In 2005, there were an estimated 82,400 smoking-material fires in
structures, 800 civilian deaths, and 1,660 civilian injuries. The
fire prevention tips below can reduce your chances of having a
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside.
- Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn
(i.e., mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, draperies,
- Never smoke in bed or when you are drowsy, intoxicated, or
- Use large, deep, and non-tip ashtrays to prevent ashes from
spilling onto furniture and check them frequently. Do not rest
ashtrays on sofas or chairs.
- Completely douse butts and ashes with water before throwing
them away as they can smolder in the trash and cause a fire.
- Smoking should not be allowed in a home where oxygen is in
- Whenever someone has been smoking in the home, always check
on, between, and under upholstery and cushions and inside
trashcans for butts that may be smoldering.
- When smokers visit your home, ask them to keep smoking
materials, lighters, and matches with them so young children do
not touch them.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight
and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less
likely to cause fires.
Other Fire Prevention Tips
Much more information is available from the Ferndale Fire
Department. We are happy to answer your questions year round and
during National Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week revolves
around the date of the Great Chicago Fire – October 9. It is the
week (Sunday through Saturday) that includes October 9. During that
week, schools will give children information regarding fire
prevention. Be sure to mark Fire Prevention Week on your calendar!
For more information about these fire issues, go to the Research
and Reports section of the
We encourage our citizens to stop in and speak with the
firefighters and learn more on how they can make their homes and
business places safer. Working to make Ferndale a safer place to
live and work,
Fire Marshal Brian Batten
Remember that a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any
combustible nearby. During 2005, an estimated 15,600 home
fires started by candles. These fires resulted in an estimated 150
civilian deaths, 1,270 civilian injuries, and an estimated direct
property loss of $539 million. Two-fifths (41%) of the home
candle fires started in the bedroom. The top five days for home
candle fires were Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, New
Year's Eve, and Halloween.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
In the past decade, people have become more aware of the risk of
carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the home. Often called the silent
killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, and colorless gas
created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas,
propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating
and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon
monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can
also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
- U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 61,100
non-fire CO incidents,
- January and December (between the hours of 6:00pm and
10:00pm) were found to be the peak months for these incidents,
- 89% of the CO incidents took place in the home.
The risk of unintentional CO death is highest for the very old
(ages 75 or above). The symptoms of CO poisoning include severe
headache, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea, or faintness. Many of
these symptoms are similar to the flu, food poisoning, or other
illnesses. Installation of CO alarms (listed by an independent
testing laboratory) inside your home can provide an early warning of
Protective devices capable of responding to overloads and short
circuits, such as circuit breakers, have been available for a number
of years. Newer technologies now provide enhanced protection from
arcing or ground-faults, which may prevent fires or shock. The NFPA
has more information about fire safety issues pertaining to
Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (AFCIs) or Ground-Fault
Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs) at the NFPA website.
Deaf And Hard Of Hearing
Smoke alarms save lives. But those who are deaf or hard of
hearing cannot depend on the sound of the regular alarm to alert
them to a fire. There are now a variety of smoke alarms on the
market that combine sound and strobe lights to alert those with
limited hearing that there is a fire in the home. The majority of
fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can
put people into a deeper sleep, it is important to have the
necessary early warning of a fire to ensure that they wake up. Keep
a communications device nearby. If you use a TTY/TTD device, place
it close to the bed so that communication with emergency personnel
is possible should fire or smoke trap you in your room.
Clothes dryers accounted for 1 out of every 25 home structure
fires between 1999-2002. The leading cause of home clothes dryer
fires was lack of maintenance (30%) followed by unidentified or
unknown-type mechanical failure (19%) and part failure, leak or
break (16%). Clothing (not on a person) was the most common source
of ignition in home clothes dryer fires followed by dust, fiber, or
lint. To ensure that the gas line and connects are intact,
gas-powered dryers should be regularly inspected by a professional.
Cleaning the lint screen and vacuuming the dryer vent can greatly
reduce the chances of a fire.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during the
months of December, January, and February and trails only
cooking equipment in home fires year round. In 2005, heating
equipment was involved in more than 62,000 home structure fires.
These fires caused $909 million in damages and led to 620 civilian
deaths and 1,550 civilian injuries. Space heaters (portable and
fixed) accounted for 32% of the home heating fires and 22% of home
fire deaths. Common causes of space heating home fires are: lack of
regular cleaning, leading to creosote build-up, in wood-burning
devices and associated chimneys and connectors; failure to give
space heaters space by installing or placing them too close to
combustibles; basic flaws in the construction or design of wood
burning heating equipment; and fuel spills or leaks involving
liquid- or gas-fueled heating equipment.
Product Safety Information/Recalls
Information about product safety and product recalls can be found
at the United States
Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
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The City of Ferndale, Michigan
300 East Nine Mile Road
Ferndale, Michigan 48220
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