In light of recent fatal fires, Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel on Friday offered critical information on fire safety and urged residents to take simple but important steps toward protecting themselves and their homes.
- Get smoke alarms. Have one on each floor of your home and test them weekly. If your alarms still use replaceable batteries, please contact 311 to request 10-year smoke alarms with sealed lithium-ion batteries. The Fire Department will install them for free.
- Close before you doze. During a house fire, there’s a 900 degree difference between a room with a closed door and one with an open door. Closed doors also lessen the effects of toxic smoke.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets or use cords that are frayed or damaged.
- Keep flammable items away from the stove while cooking.
- Make sure your neighbors have smoke alarms.
- Have a home escape plan and practice it. You should have two exits, and you should be able to make it out in less than two minutes.
So far this year, Thiel said, “we’ve made a lot of rescues, we’ve extinguished a lot of fires successfully, we’ve had a lot of people who were saved by our medics.” But, he added, the PFD can’t do it alone: “The best fire for us is the one that never starts.”
Philadelphia suffered 20 fire fatalities in 2017.* The city could already be halfway to that total through mid-March, with three confirmed civilian deaths and seven pending confirmation by the medical examiner’s office.
“If we stay on this pace, we’re going to have a really bad year,” Thiel said.
The Philadelphia Fire Department received a $1 million grant from FEMA last year to install 30,000 smoke alarms in Philly. The PFD also has adaptive alarms for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. You can request smoke alarms through 311.
Remember: Fire is everyone’s fight.
* Corrected from previously reported total of 21.