Fire department issues warning

PARKERSBURG – Fire Prevention Week began Sunday and runs through Oct. 12 and the Parkersburg Fire Department is warning residents of the dangers of kitchen fires.

The PFD is teaming with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s office to spread awareness about kitchen fires.

“We would like to remind the public on the importance of preventing kitchen fires,” said Capt. Tim Flinn with the PFD. “Cooking fires pose a threat to rapid heat and spread inside a home for several reasons.”

Officials said fires that originate in the kitchen spread because there are nearby combustibles, including cabinets and common cooking oils, that burn rapidly. Also, a lot of kitchens are open areas and that can contribute to the spreading of a fire.

Vegetable oils are more common to cook with today for health reasons but actually burn hotter than traditional animal lard and other cooking grease, Flinn said. Oven fires often are contained, but keeping the door shut and shutting off the fuel for the oven is the best way to determine the fire is out. Firefighters say it is a good idea to get out of the house and call the fire department no matter how small the fire.

“Even if you believe the fire is out, it would be a good idea to have your local fire department to verify the fire is completely extinguished,” Flinn added.

Also, water should never be used to extinguish a cooking fire, officials said.

Among the tips for preventing kitchen fires are:

* Be on alert. When feeling sleepy, do not use the stove or stove top.

* Stay in the kitchen while cooking any food. Don’t ever leave home with the stove or oven turned on. Use a timer.

* Make a home escape plan for if a fire would ever occur. Have an outside meeting place a safe distance away from the house.

* Practice the home drills and using different ways out of the house. Know at least two ways out of every room in the house.

* Test smoke alarms monthly and replace all when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond when tested.

* If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets. Call the fire department from outside the house.

While in the kitchen, always keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires, officials said. Smothering the fire can be done by holding a lid over the pan and turning the stove top off. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door to the oven closed.

The fire marshal’s office said more fires start in the kitchen than any other part of the house.

“It’s important to help teach people how to keep cooking fires from starting in the first place,” said Anthony Carrico, acting state fire marshal. “You need to stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn the oven off.”

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week visit www.firepreventionweek.org.