Fire (Ukiah Valley Fire Authority)
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General Fire Safety Information
- Smoke Detectors
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Fire Extinguishers
- Fire Sprinklers and Fire Extinguishing Systems
- General Fire Safety Considerations
The common use of smoke detectors has only been with us since about 1970. In 1972, less than 5% of homes had smoke detectors. Today, over 93% of homes have smoke detectors. These devices, simple and inexpensive, have proven repeatedly to be a reliable means of alerting occupants of buildings to the presence of fire. This alerting process is based upon particles of smoke in the air, so occupants can get out before a fire grows to a point that they are unable to escape. Another very important consideration is that the majority of people who succumb in fires die of the effects of smoke inhalation, and are dead long before they are subjected to the effects of heat or flame. There are a variety of smoke detectors. Some use batteries only, and some are wired into the electrical system of your house. Some use both house current and batteries. Smoke detectors should be placed in sleeping areas, in hallways leading to sleeping areas, and otherwise so that they can be heard from any point within a building. Some occupancies, such as apartments, motels and care facilities, are required by law to have operating smoke detectors. All new residential construction is required to have smoke detectors. SMOKE DETECTORS WORK! A SMOKE DETECTOR CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE! Have a smoke detector; test it to be sure it works, and change the batteries twice a year.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors are a relatively new means of notification of an undesirable change in conditions within your home. These detectors are generally applied only to one-and two-family residences. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of the combustion process, and is an invisible and odorless gas. The presence of carbon monoxide does not necessarily means that there is an uncontrolled fire. Carbon monoxide is commonly produced by internal combustion engines, and can be easily produced by gas or fuel heaters which are not functioning properly. These detectors should not be relied upon solely for notification of fires–use in conjunction with smoke detectors.
Fire extinguishers are “first aid” equipment for fires. They are adequate for putting out small fires that are just starting, when the user is comfortable approaching the fire and trying to extinguish it. Fire extinguishers, properly used, can be very effective in extinguishing fires.
There are several classes of extinguishers, and the user should be aware of what type of extinguisher they are using. Extinguishers should be of an adequate size, should be mounted near exits where they can be readily seen and accessed, and must be properly maintained. The Ukiah Fire Department recommends a fire extinguisher of minimum classification 2A:10BC for home use. The same type of fire extinguisher can be used in automobiles. If you are covering an area of more than 3000 square feet, or if you are doing operations with a high fire potential (cutting, welding, etc.) you should have more fire extinguishers.
Fire Sprinklers and Fire Extinguishing Systems
Certain occupancies, such as large buildings or those with special operation, are required to have specialized systems for extinguishing fires if they occur. These systems may include water sprinklers, wet chemical extinguishers, deluge systems, special chemicals, etc. For the particular application, these systems are extremely successful in controlling fires before they get out of control. Fire sprinkler systems generally put out a fire with only one or two heads, and reduce the fire loss by a considerable amount, as well as reducing the loss of productivity and revenue.
General Fire Safety Considerations
Fire safety is basically common sense. Fire is a common occurrence, and is a routinely accepted necessity when properly managed. When it is out of control, it can be extremely destructive, and even dangerous. Awareness is essential in obtaining fire safety. First, be aware that, given the right circumstances, almost anything will burn. No one is exempt from having an unfriendly fire. Secondly, be aware of what causes fires. There are many sources of ignition that cause fire, such as matches, heating appliances, materials subject to spontaneous combustion, cooking appliances, vehicles, yard tools, etc. The easy to avoid having an unfriendly fire is to keep the things that will burn away from the things that will catch them on fire.