Fire FAQ's

How often should I check my smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms should be checked monthly. For more information on smoke alarms, please go to Smoke Alarm tab above

Do I need to clean my smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms should be cleaned once or twice per year. You can do this with the brush attachment to your vacuum cleaner or with canned air.

NOTE: The alarm may sound when you are cleaning it.

My smoke alarm light is glowing, do I still need to test it?
Smoke alarms have a normal life expectancy of 10 years. If you are getting false alarms from your detector, it may need to be replaced. When having problems with your alarm, always remember to check the battery. A 'chirping' sound typically means that the battery should be replaced.

Should I clean wood-burning fireplaces or stove chimneys to help prevent chimney fires?
Yes. Professional chimney sweeps advise that chimneys be cleaned when the creosote has built up to 1/8" to 1/4". This will help prevent chimney fires.

REMEMBER: The fireplace or wood stove is not an incinerator. Do not burn trash or large amounts of paper, especially gift-wrap. The temperature can produce damage to your fireplace or chimney.

When I clean the ash from my fireplace or fire pit, is it necessary to put them in a metal container? 
Yes. The Fire Department responds to 2 to 4 house fires every year because a homeowner has cleaned their fireplace, wood stove, or fire pit and placed the ashes in a paper bag. Ashes can stay hot enough to start a fire for up to seven days.

NOTE: Place your ashes in a metal container and leave them outside until you know they are cold (at least seven days). If you dispose of the ashes in the trash, put them in the trash only after the seven days and then only when your can has been moved to the curb for pickup.

When doing home refinishing projects, how should I dispose of rags used for staining?
Some stains are capable of creating enough heat to start a fire as they dry. This is commonly known as spontaneous combustion. Avoid storing the wet rag in a pile. The rags should be laid flat or hung to air dry. You can also store them in a metal container that has a tight fitting lid, then store the metal container outside away from any other combustibles. They can then be disposed of when completely dry.

What is the best way to display my address number?
Address numbers are very important to emergency responder's. Having address numbers visible is not only required, but will help emergency personnel find your house. The numbers should be reflective or a color that contrasts with the house. They should be near a light to help make them visible. Don't place them on the garage door as the door may be raised when the numbers are needed. All numbers should be visible from the street.

When can electric extension cords replace permanent wiring?
Extension cords may only be used with portable appliances. They may not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.

What appliances produce carbon monoxide (CO)? 
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be produced by improperly operating fuel-burning appliances (natural gas, LP gas, fuel oil, kerosene, wood). CO can be deadly! All fuel burning appliances, such as furnaces and water heaters, should be serviced yearly. Every dwelling unit should have a carbon monoxide detector. More information on Carbon Monoxide.

Is there anything that can be done, ahead of time, to help make the process after a fire any easier?
Yes. Having a fire in ones home is a devastating thing, however, there are things that can be done ahead of time to make the process a little easier.

  • Take a personnel inventory of all of your families belongings.
  • Make more than one copy, keep one in a fireproof safe and one with at least one other family member or friend, outside your home.
  • Try to keep receipts for some of the more expensive items.
  • Talk with your insurance company to find out what other information they might in the event of a fire.

If you have any questions for the Fire Department, please let us know. Others may have the same questions and we can all learn from the answers.