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News & Information

Fire Prevention Week

Release Date: October 01, 2018

Fire Prevention Week Logo

As Fire Prevention Week approaches, the Sussex County Fire Marshal's Office encourages residents to "Look. Listen. Learn." What does that mean?

Today's home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.

The Sussex County Fire Marshal's Office, a division of the Sussex County Sheriff's Office, along with all of the local Sussex County Fire departments, are teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) -- the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years -- to promote this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire Can Happen Anywhere" which works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

NFPA statistics show that the number of United States home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

"These numbers show that while we've made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there's still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy. "This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today's home fires grow and spread."

Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to complacency toward home escape planning and practice.

"Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives," said Sussex County Fire Marshal Virgil Rome. "We need to do a better job of teaching people about the potentially life-saving difference escape planning and practice can make and motivating them to action."

Fire Marshal Rome says this year's "Look. Listen. Learn." campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire

  • Look for places fire could start.
  • Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • Learn 2 ways out of every room.

While the NFPA and the Sussex County Fire Marshal's Office are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply to virtually anywhere. "Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go," said Fire Marshal Rome. "No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately." All of the Sussex County Fire Departments will be visiting their local schools in support of this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Look. Listen. Learn." For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit www.firepreventionweek.org external link.


Posted August 1, 2018

According to Ready.gov, a fire can go from a hazard to life-threatening in a matter of minutes external link. If a fire starts while you're asleep, you need to get out fast.

A full quarter of home fire deaths are caused by fires that started in the bedroom, according to the National Fire Protection Association:

Sheriff's Logo

Here's how to fireproof your bedroom:

Practice fire drills.

Despite there being over a million external link residential fires each year, only a third of American households have a fire escape plan external link. Schedule a twice-yearly fire drill, and make one of those at night. This way you and your family are truly prepared.

With a fire, every second counts, so practice your escape plan quickly. In case smoke makes it dark, practice with your eyes closed or a bandana over your head to see if you can feel your way out.

If a fire starts outside your bedroom, practice crawling low to the ground toward the door. Practice touching the door knob before opening it. If it's hot to touch, go to your other route and practice unrolling your safety escape ladders. Confirm that you can easily open your bedroom window.

Practice the stop, drop, and roll in case you catch on fire.

Regularly maintain smoke alarms.

Keep a smoke alarm in every room of your house, including your bedroom. Smoke alarms reduce your risk of dying by fire by half.

Choose smoke alarms with sealed-in 10-year lithium battery. If your house is currently using hard-wire smoke alarms, replace them with battery-powered models or install battery-powered models as backups.

Each month, test the alarm and clear it of dust. Every year, replace the batteries. Every 10 years, replace the smoke alarm unit.

Get a separate carbon monoxide alarm and place one outside your bedroom so you'll wake up if it starts to beep.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Most people keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for kitchen fires, but that's not helpful if a fire occurs upstairs or in their bedroom.

Keep a fire extinguisher in your bedroom or close by. Buy a fire extinguisher with an ABC rating. This means they are able to extinguish fires caused by the widest variety of items, flammable liquids, and electronic equipment.

Every year, confirm that the gauge reads 100% full, and replace it if not. Train yourself on how to use a fire extinguisher and rehearse the motions during your fire escape plan (but don't actually squeeze it).

Remove obvious fire hazards.

Do not light candles in your bedroom. Avoid using space heaters in the bedroom. Never smoke in your bedroom.

If you have a rug in your bedroom, avoid running electrical cords under it. Regularly check that all of the electronics in your bedroom are not showing frays or damage to the wires, and if so, replace them immediately.

If you live in an older home, hire a professional to come take a look at your wiring and replace anything that's old.

Courtesy of Tuck Sleep. Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been referenced by Well + Good, Shape, Smithsonian Magazine, Harvard University and by many sleep organizations across the web.

Sheriff's Logo
Virgil R. Rome, Jr.
Fire Marshal/Fire Coordinator
Sussex County Sheriff's Office
135 Morris Turnpike
Newton, New Jersey 07860
973-579-0380 ext 2207
973-948-0960 fax
www.sussexcountysheriff.com external link

Posted November 20, 2017

Greetings! The holiday season is upon us and with it comes cold weather. Unfortunately, it is at this time of the year that we see an increase in home fires. These fires can result in unspeakable damage and loss, to not only treasured family property and mementos, but can also occasionally cause injuries and even death. Almost every one of these fires is preventable by following some simple rules and safety measures.

burning house

The winter of 2016-2017 saw Sussex County again hit with bitterly cold temperatures. The Sussex County fire service responded to several fires that resulted from frozen pipes, improperly utilizing space heaters, overloading extension cords, having clogged chimneys and carelessly discarding fireplace or woodstove ashes.

burning house

With respect to preventing and remediating frozen pipes, we recommend the following:

  • If you have a hidden leak somewhere in your plumbing system, the water could potentially seep into an area with electric wiring. If the wiring's insulation isn't up to par, the water could generate sparks that could start a fire. To avoid this scenario, keep an eye out for unexpectedly high water bills or discolored spots in your home that could indicate a leak.
  • The other major fire risk is somewhat ironic in that it arises when you try to protect your pipes from freezing in the winter. Sometimes the danger comes from preventative measures like using heat tape to wrap pipes that are located in uninsulated parts of the home like attics or under the porch. If heat tape isn't applied properly, it can overheat and start a blaze. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that faulty heat tape accounts for 1,500 fires, 100 injuries and 10 deaths each year.
  • Some people also run into trouble after pipes have already frozen by using a torch to thaw it out - for safety purposes, you should never use an open flame on frozen pipes. Instead, use a hair dryer, heat lamp or even a hot towel to melt the ice without risking a fire.

Some other winter safety tips include:

  • Space heaters need space. All portable space heaters require a three-foot clearance from anything that can burn and should always be turned off when leaving the room or to go to sleep.
  • When purchasing a new heating unit, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing lab such as UL. Make sure that all installations are completed according to the manufactures instructions and are done by a qualified technician. Consult your local Fire Official if more information is needed.
  • Wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connections and all heating equipment need to be inspected annually by a professional and cleaned as per manufactures recommendations. If the manufacturer doesn't state how often to clean, it should be done at least annually.
  • When cleaning the old ashes from your stove or fireplace, place all ashes in a metal can and remove the can from the house. The can should be placed away from the home and left in the metal can until cooled or assured that they completely extinguished. Do not place them on a porch or in a cardboard or wooden box. Ashes can stay hot for up to a week.
  • Portable Kerosene heaters must be fueled in well-ventilated areas. Keep the unit away from any combustibles. Never use gasoline and remember. kerosene is to be stored in a blue can only! Do not re-fuel your portable heaters or generators while they are running!
  • All heating units described here can burn you just by touch. It's important to monitor all units when in operation, especially if you have small children in the home.
  • Make sure your have proper ventilation in your home. All of the devices mentioned can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. A Carbon Monoxide Detector should be installed in each and every home.
  • Make sure all of the smoke detectors in your home are working properly. Change the batteries twice a year and test your detector monthly.
  • Practice your home fire escape plan. If you don't have one, create one. Always have two ways out of your home and have everyone meet at a designated meeting place outside the home. If you need assistance with designing your plan contact your local fire department.

Finally, please consider the following:

  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)
  • When cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the stove.
  • Don't overload extension cords or wall outlets. A fire caused by a faulty electrical system can destroy a home and everything in it within minutes. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • If a cooking fire starts, smother it with a pot lid. Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Be sure to close doors while evacuating or fleeing from a fire. Closing doors can help smother a fire by depriving it of oxygen which it needs to burn. In addition, closing doors may buy time and prevent flame spread while the Fire Department is responding.
  • If there is a fire - get out and stay out. Never go back into a burning home.

burning house

The Sussex County Fire Marshal and the Sussex County Sheriff's Office hope that these safety tips help to make your holiday season a safe one. If you should have any questions regarding fire safety call or visit your local fire department.

Virgil Rome
Sussex County Fire Marshal/Fire Coordinator
Sussex County Sheriff's Office
135 Morris Turnpike
Newton, New Jersey 07860