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Welcome to the Brewer Fire Engine Co. #1 Fire Prevention page. While we are well equipped to fight fires, we would like to share some information with you on how to prevent them. Please read the literature and watch the videos, as they will aid you in creating a safe home, and possibly save valuable seconds in a time of emergency.
 
Smoke Detectors Carbon Monoxide Detectors FAQ'S About Fire Prevention
Developing an Escape Plan The Facts About Fire Safety Audit
Click here to download a guide to help design your escape plan.

Safety Audit

How would you like to go on a tour of your own home -- a tour unlike any other you may have taken and one that may present your familiar surroundings in a new and important light? Well, now's the time. The tour outlined here has just one purpose: to help you look at each major room of your home and learn how to make it safer for every member of your family. We've listed all recommendations for the safety features and equipment each room should ideally contain.

Entries
  • Deadbolt locks and heavy-duty strike plates.
  • Outdoor security lighting that is timer or motion-detector controlled.
Living, Dining, and Family Rooms
  • A carbon monoxide alarm on every level where your family spends time.
  • Safety plugs on unused outlets.
  • Window treatments free of dangling cords if small children are present.
  • Programmable timers to turn lamps on and off when you're away.
  • Extension cords placed safely away from areas where they could be stepped on or tripped over.
  • Outlet surge protectors for audio, video, and computer equipment.
  • Windows kept free of furniture if small children are present.
Kitchen
  • A smoke alarm with silence button.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • Scatter rugs that have non-slip backings or that are attached with pads or double-faced tape.
  • Childproof safety latches on cabinets that contain cleaning materials.
  • Electrical outlets that are fitted with ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  • Individual shut-off valves for each gas appliance.
  • Short, heavy-duty extension cords for appliances.
  • A range hood or vent kept free of built-up grease.
  • Radios, televisions and small electric appliances located safely away from the sink.
  • A list of emergency numbers located prominently near the phone
Baths
  • An up-to-date first-aid kit.
  • Anti-scald shower/tub water controls.
  • Grab bars within easy reach in each tub and shower stall.
  • Shatter-resistant faucet parts with no sharp edges.
  • A night light.
  • Childproof safety latches on cabinets containing dangerous materials.
  • An electrical outlet positioned away from water fixtures and fitted with a ground-fault circuit interrupter.
Furnace Room
  • A smoke alarm.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm at least 15 - 20 feet from furnace.
  • A fire extinguisher.
Bedrooms
  • A smoke alarm in every bedroom and main hallway.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm in or near each bedroom.
  • A night light.
  • A fire-escape ladder (if bedrooms are above main levels).
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A list of emergency numbers posted near any telephones.
  • The control center for your home security system.
  • A rechargeable flashlight.
Garage
  • A smoke alarm or heat alarm.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Well-maintained tools/equipment.
  • Electrical outlets equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  • A telephone for summoning emergency help.
A Final Note

Should an emergency situation occur in your home such as fire or carbon monoxide, be sure your family has a planned escape route and meeting place outside your home. Discuss the plan with your family and rehearse it together so that each member understands the importance of a safe escape.
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The Facts About Fire

Fire is a deadly threat to any household. It can strike anywhere, at any time. The frightening truth is that in 2000, there were nearly 370,000 home fires in the U.S. resulting in over 20,000 injuries and deaths combined. You must be prepared by using the tools for fire protection.

Smoke alarms provide an early warning of fire. Smoke alarms are the easiest, most cost-efficient way to alert your family of a developing fire. The more smoke alarms you have installed in your home, the more your chances increase that you will survive the fire.

Fire extinguishers provide a tool to fight small fires. Having a fire extinguisher in your home can increase your chances of keeping a small fire from getting out of control and becoming a deadly rage.

Using both smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home, along with knowing what to do in case of fire, can save your life! Fire is a preventable tragedy!

What do I need to know about fire?

Fire can and might happen to you! You must be prepared and have the knowledge to escape safely. Fire is darker, smokier, hotter, and faster than you can imagine. You must know what fire is like in order to escape the danger safely. The following are four important facts to remember:

  1. Fire is dark. Most people expect fire to be light. On the contrary, fire is pitch black. For this reason, people get trapped in their homes because they could not find their way out in the dark-- they didn't have a flashlight and didn't practice an escape plan.
  2. Smoke can kill. Since most fire fatalities occur between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. when most people are sleeping--the only thing standing between the deadly fumes of fire and a safe escape is the piercing sound of a smoke alarm. The poisonous gases emitted by a fire actually put people into a deeper sleep and many suffocate without ever waking or even becoming aware of the fire. They die of smoke inhalation because they had no warning.
  3. Fire has intense heat. Fire can cause the temperature to rise several hundred degrees in just seconds. The heat is so intense that it can cause the human body to stop functioning altogether--one breath can cause severe lung damage. The heat alone can cause someone to become unconscious and not be able to escape.

There is no time. A residential home can be totally consumed in flames in less than five minutes from the start of a fire! There is no time to waste. You must know what to do and you must get out. A closed door is often the best way to stall a fire . By closing the door, you may save yourself valuable seconds to use an alternate escape route.  However , be sure to try and leave doors unlocked, for easy access by the fire department.

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Developing an Escape Plan
The National Fire Protection Association credits smoke alarms with helping reduce fire-related fatalities in the U.S. by over one-third in the last ten years. Having a properly installed and working smoke alarms in your home increases your family's chance of safely escaping a fire by up to 50 percent.  In addition to properly outfitting your home with smoke alarms, you should develop and practice regularly a home escape plan in case a real fire should occur, because smoke alarms may not waken all individuals.

To help you plan you escape plan, first, take into consideration the following:
  • Plan an escape route with your family present.
  • When planning your escape, identify more than one potential exit for each room and each level. Create several different escape plans, in case one or more are blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Be sure that your escape plan takes into account the particular characteristics of each member of your family including age, physical conditions, sleeping habits, hearing ability, etc.
  • Young children often panic in fires, hiding in closets or under beds. Teach them not to hide— GET OUT OF A BURNING HOUSE IMMEDIATELY.
  • Practice the escape plan at least twice a year, making sure that everyone is involved - from kids to grandparents
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping.
  • If children or others do not readily awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm, or if there are infants or family member with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency.
  • It is recommended that you hold a fire drill while family members are sleeping in order to determine their response to the sound of the smoke alarm while sleeping and to determine whether they may need assistance in the event of an emergency.
  • Practice fire drills and your escape plan with the alarm sounding. This will teach children to associate the alarm signal with the need to escape.
  • Designate a meeting place outside of the home for the entire family - do a head count to be sure you have accounted for everyone.
When practicing an escape plan, be sure that all family members know and properly understand the following, especially children:
  • Feel the door before opening - if it's hot, don't open it. Use another escape route. If you can use the door, close it behind you. A closed door may help stall a fire.
  • Stay low. Smoke and heat rise. Crawl on the floor where there's less smoke and less severe heat.
  • Never return to a burning building for any reason including toys or pets.

If your clothes should catch fire, don't run! STOP! Where you are, cover your face, DROP to the ground, then ROCK back and forth to smother the flames!

Always remember If your smoke alarm sounds, follow your family escape route, get out of the house as quickly as possible, closing all doors behind you but not locking them and call the fire department. Do not attempt to fight the fire.

Click here to download a guide to help design your escape plan.


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FAQ'S About Fire Prevention

I have one smoke alarm in my home. Is that enough protection against fire?

No, several smoke alarms and fire extinguishers must be installed and maintained for proper fire protection. Smoke alarms should be installed on every living level of the home, inside every bedroom, and in the main corridor outside each bedroom area. Fire extinguishers should be installed on each living level, as well as in rooms that pose potential fire hazards (i.e., kitchen, garage, workshop).  Installing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers dramatically increases your family's chances of surviving a fire.

Where should I install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers?

Where to install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers is the most important consideration in proper fire protection. Quite often, they are improperly located and are not easily accessible or do not work properly.

Many laws require that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home. It is also important to install at least one fire extinguisher in a convenient location on each level. The basic protection for any home would be to install one smoke alarm and one fire extinguisher on each level.

However, we suggest that you:

  • Install a minimum of two alarms even in single level homes.
  • Install a smoke alarm inside each bedroom as well as in the main corridor outside each bedroom area.
  • Install a smoke alarm above stairwells.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in every room that poses a potential fire hazard: the kitchen, garage, and workshop.
Other important considerations include:
  • Mount smoke alarms in the middle of the ceiling when ceiling mounted. If that is not possible mount detectors on the wall at least three feet away from a corner and 4 - 6 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Keep smoke alarms away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. The moving air can blow smoke away from the sensor.
  • Avoid placing smoke alarms too near the kitchen stove and bathroom shower.
  • Mount basement alarms at the bottom of the basement stairwell.
  • Mount fire extinguishers on a wall 3 1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. The location should be near an exit or an escape route from the room.

How do I select the right smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for my home?

First, establish how many you will need and where you will install each alarm and extinguisher. Once you know which rooms will have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, you can determine which features are best suited for that area. 

What types of smoke alarms are there?

There are two basic types of smoke alarms:
ionization and photoelectronic . Both are effective at detecting fire, yet each has a unique detecting system. Each type of detector also comes as AC-operated smoke alarms or battery-operated smoke alarms. Some AC alarms even come with a battery back-up system. Additional features can include an escape light, silencing button, or light test feature. 

What types of fire extinguishers are there?

Fire extinguishers are categorized by ratings. These ratings determine the size and type of fire that the extinguisher can successfully put out. Fire can be divided into three categories: A, B, or C. An "A" type fire is primarily wood, paper and fabric. "B" type fires are primarily grease and oil based. Finally, "C" type fires are electrical in nature.

The number preceding the A, B, or C rating determines how big of fire the extinguisher can put out. For example, a 10B:C extinguisher would be able to handle a 25 foot square fire of either oil or electrical origin. A 5B:C extinguisher could handle a 12.5 square foot fire that is oil or electrical based. 

How do I maintain my smoke alarms and fire extinguishers once they are installed?

Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are relatively easy to maintain; yet, improper maintenance is the biggest reason smoke detectors and fire extinguishers fail. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU MAINTAIN ALL YOUR SMOKE ALARMS AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS:

  • Weekly test your smoke alarm by pressing the test button and your fire extinguisher by checking the pressure gauge.
  • Replace the battery in each smoke alarm twice a year (every six months).
  • Never remove the battery except when replacing it with a fresh battery.
  • Clean the smoke alarm at least once a year.

Following these simple instructions can mean the difference between a saved life and a fatal tragedy. Putting up smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and forgetting about them is not the way to protect your family - you must maintain them weekly and keep fresh batteries in smoke alarms for proper operation.  Follow the instructions in the product's User's Manual for specific instructions on how to install and maintain your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. 

What should I do if I hear the smoke alarm's sound?

NEVER IGNORE THE SOUND OF A SMOKE ALARM. If the smoke alarm is sounding its alarm, there is a reason. You and your family must be able to escape quickly and safely. Here are several steps your family can learn and rehearse for an emergency:

  • Have an escape plan. Discuss and rehearse escape plans . Know two exits from any room in the house.
  • Feel if the door is hot. Always feel the door to see if it is hot before opening It to escape. If the doorknob or door is hot, do not use that exit. Use your alternate exit to escape.
  • Crawl on the floor. Smoke from a fire rises and so does the temperature. If you crawl on the floor there will be less smoke and the heat from the fire will be less severe.
  • Meet at a prearranged spot outside the home. If you clearly show where everyone is supposed to meet outside the home when there is a fire, it will be easier to know who is safe.
  • Call the fire department from a neighbor's home. Be prepared to give your full name and address to the operator at the other end of the line. Stay on the line until the operator has all of the information needed.
  • Never go inside a burning building. Never return inside the house for any reason. The firemen will be there soon and they have special gear and clothes that allow them to go into a fire.
By following these basic fire safety tips, you will increase your family's chances for survival in a fire.

Are there other ways I can protect my family from fires?

The following is a fire safety checklist to lower the chances that a fire may start in your home:
  • Keep the furnace in working order.
  • Use a fireplace screen.
  • Have proper ventilation for heaters and other small appliances.
  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Use the correct size fuses.
  • Don't use worn out electrical wiring or run it under rugs or out windows or doors.
  • Clear refuse away—the less clutter, the less fuel a fire has to feed on.

Is there any other fire safety equipment that I need for my home?

Having working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home greatly reduces your risk of dying in a fire. However, we also recommend that you have flashlights in every bedroom in case of a fire emergency. Since fire is very dark, a reliable working flashlight can help light your way to safety.  In addition be sure to have all emergency numbers posted next to a telephone.

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Carbon Monoxide Detectors
 
Figure 1.   Potential CO Hazards and Proper Placement of Alarms.

1. Why is CO so dangerous?
Carbon monoxide actually robs your blood of life-giving oxygen! When you inhale CO, it bonds with hemoglobin in your blood and displaces the oxygen. As CO accumulates in your blood, it forms a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). This process can eventually displace enough oxygen to cause serious injury or death. It's almost like you suffocate from the inside!

2. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
With mild exposure you might feel flu-like symptoms, like slight headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. With moderate exposure you might experience a throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, and a fast heart rate. Extreme exposure can cause convulsions, unconsciousness, or heart and lung failure. Prolonged exposure can cause brain damage or death.

3. Who is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Medical experts believe, however, that some individuals - like pregnant women, unborn babies, infants, children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung problems - are more vulnerable to poisoning.

4. Why is CO so hard to detect?
One reason is that carbon monoxide has no smell, no color and no taste. You can't tell its there unless you have a carbon monoxide alarm, or unless you start feeling symptoms of CO poisoning.

5. Where does CO come from?
Anything that burns fuel, like wood, coal, natural gas, propane or oil, can produce CO. Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of incomplete combustion. Even lighting a match or burning a candle can produce trace amounts of CO. What makes carbon monoxide dangerous is the amount present in the air, and the length of time you are exposed to it.

6. Can my household appliances produce CO?
Fuel-burning appliances, like gas furnaces, stoves and water heaters, wood burning fireplaces, or kerosene heaters can all produce carbon monoxide. If the appliances are in proper working order, and there is a continuous supply of fresh air being exchanged through your home, the amount of CO produced is not life-threatening. CO poisoning happens when something goes wrong.

7. What can go wrong with my appliances to cause a CO problem?
An appliance can break down or get misadjusted. The fresh air flow into and out of your home can be blocked by a clogged chimney or debris in the air exchange vents. In rare cases, environmental conditions can actually cause a condition called 'backdrafting,' where appliances pull CO back into your home instead of venting it outside.

8. How can I protect my family from CO poisoning?
Start by having fuel-burning appliances checked regularly, according to the manufacturers' recommendations. Next, install carbon monoxide alarms throughout your home. When choosing a CO alarm, make sure it is Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) listed, and sounds an audible warning. Look for the UL logo on the package. Finally, learn the symptoms of CO poisoning, and make sure you know what to do if your CO alarm sounds.

9. How many CO alarms do I need?
There is no 'magic number' of CO alarms any family needs. How many CO alarms you install depends on the layout of your home, how many bedrooms you have, where the heat sources are, and where all fuel-burning appliances are located.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping area. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also recommends UL listed carbon monoxide alarms -- on every level of the home and in areas near appliances that are potential sources of CO.

10. Where should I install my carbon monoxide alarms?
Make sure everyone can hear the alarms and be awakened by them if they are asleep. Where does your family sleep? Are all bedrooms located off the same hallway? If so, install your first CO alarm in that bedroom hallway. Test the alarm and make sure everyone could hear it from their bedroom or sleeping area if it alarmed at night.

 
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Smoke Detectors
While all smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke, certain sensing technologies react differently to certain types of fires.

In order to provide your family the maximum in fire-safety protection, you need to be sure your smoke alarms use both Ionization and Photoelectric Sensing Technologies. Because not all fires are created equal.

Sometimes a fire can smolder for hours before erupting into flames. Photoelectric Sensing Technology is generally more sensitive than Ionization Sensing Technology at detecting smoldering fires. Sources of smoldering fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding. Other fires can erupt far more quickly. Ionization Sensing Technology is generally more sensitive than Photoelectric Sensing Technology at detecting flaming fires. Sources of flaming fires may include paper burning in a wastebasket or a grease fire in the kitchen. It’s important to note that all smoke alarms are designed to detect particles of smoke–regardless of their type.

But–for the earliest possible warning–regardless of the type of fire, you should be sure your smoke alarms use both Ionization and Photoelectric Sensing Technologies.

Photoelectric Sensing Technology
is generally more sensitive than Ionization Sensing Technology at detecting large particles, which tend to be produced in greater amounts by smoldering fires, which may smolder for hours before bursting into flame.
Ionization Sensing Technology
is generally more sensitive than Photoelectric Sensing Technology at detecting small particles, which tend to be produced in greater amounts by flaming fires, which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly.
ALWAYS BE SURE TO:

  • Install both Photo- and Ion-sensing types of smoke alarms on every level of your home for maximum protection.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month.
  • Create and practice a home escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Have a smoke alarm in every bedroom.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarm every 6 months.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Remember:

What matters is that you provide your family with the maximum in fire-safety protection for all possible conditions.
So be sure your home is equipped with both Photo- and Ion-sensing types of smoke alarms.

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