In the wake of several recent fires in the City of Pittsfield, with four out of five electrical-related, Pittsfield Fire Chief Thomas Sammons held a press conference on Wednesday at the department’s headquarters to raise awareness on electrical fire safety measures and prevention.
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of fire this time of the year. There are approximately 45,000 home electrical fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“We had five significant fires in the span of nine days. We have small fires all the time; but
these were big enough to pull hose lines and displace people. Four of them were electrical in origin. They weren’t all overloaded circuits, there were a variety of instances, but the root cause was electrical,” said Sammons. The fifth fire was related to the attempted thawing of a frozen pipe with an open flame.
“Oftentimes, it’s the simple things that people take for granted, but when it comes to fire safety, vigilance is key,” Sammons said. “Overloaded outlets spell danger, know the signs and when to unplug.”
Here are several steps to stay safe during the winter months:
- Overloaded power strips are a serious hazard. Never overload a power strip.
- Never plug an extension cord into a power strip.
- Never cover an extension cord with a carpet, they are for temporary purposes. Also, never staple them to anything.
- Rule of thumb: If you use it to cook or refrigerate or if it heats or cools always plug it directly into a wall. Examples include items such as a space heater, air conditioner, refrigerator, or a microwave. Always plug them into a wall.
- Space heaters need a 3-foot area free from combustibles (paper, plastic, and wood). It’s also important to make sure the heaters are on level ground.
- Never leave a space heater unattended.
- Never use your stove as a heat source.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
- For those who rent, renter’s insurance is inexpensive and can prove to be invaluable in the event of a fire or other emergency.
- If breakers are continuously tripping, have them checked out by a licensed electrician.
For additional resources on electrical fire safety, please visit
- www.usfa.fema.gov and www.nfpa.org/public-education.
For more information, please contact the Pittsfield Fire Inspection Bureau at 413-448-9764.