City fire calls down slightly during 2013

STEUBENVILLE – City firefighters responded to 1,079 calls in 2013, down slightly from 1,098 calls in 2012.

“We had 37 structure fire calls in 2013, which was a slight decrease from 41 in 2012. We also had 13 cooking fire calls last year and 14 vehicle fire calls. The other significant number in 2013 was calls to outside rubbish, trash and Dumpster fires,” said fire Chief Carlo Capaldi.

“This is also the weekend to change your clocks and a perfect time to make sure your smoke detector is working properly. This is the time to change your smoke detector batteries. Make sure your smoke detector is operational,” Capaldi said.

“A smoke detector won’t stop a fire. But it does give the people in the house a warning of a fire. It will basically notify you to get out and can save your life. Statistics show 90 percent of fatal fires occur at night when people are sleeping. Working smoke detectors will alert you to get out immediately,” added Capaldi.

He said the fire department saw three fire-related fatalities in 2012 and one fatality so far this year.

“I can’t emphasize the importance of smoke detectors enough, said fire department Capt. Inspector T.J. Burchfield.

“If you can’t afford a smoke detector we have a supply available for eligible residents. Just stop at the West End fire station, the North Street fire station or the fire department office in City Hall and leave your name and telephone number and we will contact you,” said Burchfield.

“And if you are physically unable to install a smoke detector, we will assist you,” he added.

Capaldi said a smoke detector can cost between $10 and $30.

“I have been on fatal fire calls and you immediately check if there was a working smoke detector in the house. That is the tough part of the job. A smoke detector uses a 9 volt battery but sometimes the battery dies or there is a need for a 9 volt battery for something else and the resident removes it from the smoke detector. It’s never easy to go on a fatal fire call, so anything you can do to save your life is important,” remarked Burchfield.

Capaldi said home education also is important.

“Teach your children what the smoke detector alarm sounds like and what it means. Everyone in the house should know what to do when the alarm sounds. There should be an exit plan and a designated meeting place outside of the house. And once you are outside do not go back in. The average person is not trained or equipped to enter a burning structure,” Capaldi stated.

“Our average response time is three minutes. It is crucial for everyone to get outside and stay outside. We have the training and equipment to properly respond to a fire and to help people in need. When a smoke detector alarm sounds, get out,” stressed Capaldi.

According to Burchfield, the average smoke detector lasts seven years before it needs to be replaced.

“But check your smoke detector twice a year. If it isn’t working properly get a new one. You may also want to invest in a carbon monoxide detector as well,” said Burchfield.

According to Capaldi, additional safety tips include:

– Know two ways out in the case of an emergency.

– If you have a fire extinguisher, make sure it is the proper type for your proposed uses, charged and you are familiar with its use.

– Clean dryer vents of built up lint and debris.

– Check electrical cords to make sure they are not worn or frayed.

– Make sure electrical outlets are not overloaded.

– Ensure materials are cleared from around space heaters.

– Keep combustibles from around cooking surfaces.

– Store lighters and matches away from the reach of children.

“Fire deaths are most common in younger children and the elderly. Careless smoking is the No. 1 cause of home deaths. If you are shopping for a smoke detector, choose one with a loud and distinctive alarm and a low battery indicator. It is a good idea to vacuum the detector to remove any sensor-blocking dust particles and never paint a smoke alarm,” Capaldi said.

“Your chances for survival in a home fire are two times better when smoke detectors are present. It is a good idea to install a smoke detector inside each bedroom and on every level of your home,” said Capaldi.