Fire prevention week highlights safety

James Dyer

Oct. 3-9 marks the annual Fire Prevention Week. The event is observed each year in memory of the 1871 Chicago fire which burned down a large portion of the city.

Fire safety is important all year round, but this week students and community members can brush up on their knowledge of fire hazards and how to prevent fires in the home.

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has sponsored the event for almost 90 years. This year’s theme focuses on the importance of smoke detectors for homeowners.

Brian Naze from the Marquette Fire Department gave some basic tips that students living in rental properties should keep in mind to minimize fire hazards in their homes.

Always be sure to keep smoke detectors in good condition.

“Smoke detectors are the number one safety issue. You cannot have too many smoke detectors,” Naze said.

Renters should make sure they have a working smoke detector in their bedroom and in the living room, he said. The Marquette Fire Department offers free nine volt batteries as replacements in smoke detectors, which is an issue, he said.

Keep bedroom doors closed during the night.

According to Naze, this will keep bedrooms from filling with smoke while the occupants are sleeping.

Avoid using extension cords whenever possible.

Extension cords can heat up and become a fire hazard when used extensively.

“It’s always better to use power strips, because they have a fuse that shuts off when they get over heated,” Naze said.

Use candles with caution.

Candles can add a nice touch to a room, but they must be monitored carefully, Naze said. If they are allowed to burn down too far, they could present a serious fire hazard, Naze said.

“(Candles) are really nice to have for when you have someone sweet over, but they are one of the leading causes of house fires in Marquette,” he said.

Know where the exits are.

Being able to exit a burning house is key, Naze said. Renters should make sure that all of the windows in their rooms are in proper working order, and know where all of the exits are to their home.

“Renters should ask, ‘Is there another way out of my house other than the front door?’ Make sure you know how to get out,” he said.

Smokers should exercise caution.

Smoking in the house is a bad idea, Naze said. Naze encourages smokers to dispose of butts outside, in a metal container filled partway with sand. This will reduce the risk of a fire starting from a spent cigarette.

“If you choose to smoke, smoke outside using a proper receptacle (for butts),” he said.

Make sure bedrooms are approved.

Renters shouldn’t be eager to put a roommate in the attic or basement unless they have been inspected and approved by the fire department, Naze said.

The City of Marquette ordinance 521 requires that all landlords must have their rental property registered and inspected by the fire department.

“If anyone feels they are living in unsafe conditions, or have a fire hazard problem, they should feel free to call the fire department and talk to a rental inspector,” Naze said.