There has been a lot of coverage on the different wildfires going on in the country lately, like the one in Colorado, and there has been a good amount of fires locally as well. Most of them have been structure fires with brush fires here and there. With an ongoing drought and monsoon season here, fire prevention awareness is imperative.
“Even if we’re fortunate enough to get some rain coming up, it won’t be enough,” Jake Rhoades, Kingman Fire Department chief said. “Because those rains come fast, there’s not enough moisture out there.”
Fire Safety Tips
• Keep candles at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn.
• When cooking, keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels or food packaging away from your stovetop.
• If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly.
• Clear leaves and other vegetative debris from roofs, gutters, porches and decks. This keeps embers from igniting your home.
• Dispose of debris and lawn cuttings quickly to reduce fuel for a fire.
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, every level of the home and in the basement.
• Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
• In the winter months, remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
Information provided by the National Fire Protection Association
Fourth of July is creeping around the corner and that means fireworks and cookouts with the family. Rhoades says that little fireworks can be taken for granted when starting a fire.
“It may not affect you, but 50 or 100 yards away it will set a little fire,” he said.
The city is under a burn ban and that means no open fires at any time, but warming fires at night are OK. Dumping coals is something else to watch out for. Rhoades says those coals stay hot and the burning embers can stay ignited for a while.
Fireworks are beautiful to look at and even fun to ignite, but they can cause a fire at the neighbor’s house in drought conditions. Other pretty things that can cause fires are sky lanterns.
“They’re gorgeous, but it doesn’t take much to be blown to the side of a building or into some brush,” the chief said.
Cigarette butts can also cause a fire if not put out correctly. Being aware of the things that can cause a fire is key to preventing fires in the first place.
“Not only awareness of what you’re doing, but what other people are doing around you,” Rhoades said.
Sometimes things are out of a human control when it comes to fires igniting. Since monsoon season is here, lightning strikes can be a fire causing agent.
When firefighters are dispatched to a call and arrive on the scene, things they look out for include the conditions of the fire, building construction, temperature of the fire, whether smoke is showing, and the color of the smoke.
Beating the flashover time, which is when material in a room or compartment reach their ignition temperatures, is what firefighters try to do when responding to a call.
Chief Rhoades says that in older construction or older furnishings, it used to take about 30 minutes for the flashover to occur. Nowadays with manmade materials it takes three to five minutes.
“You need to think about that when our units arrive on scene,” he said.
By the time firefighters arrive on scene, materials in the house can be well past their flashover time because it takes about 90 seconds of dispatch time, plus the time the station takes to acknowledge the emergency and respond to it, and then arriving within four minutes to the scene.
Sometimes fires can be an accident, but there are situations where fires are intentional.
“Unfortunately, we also have some malicious actions over the last few years with some intentional fires being set,” Rhoades said.
There have been times when on-scene fire investigators have found devices that start fires. And catching those arsonists in the act is difficult when witnesses don’t speak up, Rhoades said.
KFD isn’t the only fire-fighting district in the Kingman area. There’s also Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, Pinon Pine Fire District, Golden Valley Fire District, and Pine Lake Fire District.
There have been times when the districts helped one another battling fires. One example is the Bulldog Recycling fires where multiple agencies responded, and one of those fires was a memorable one for Rhoades.
“I was operating within one of the divisions and my son had just got into the Yucca Fire Department,” he said. “He was assigned my division, so I have to fight a fire with my son there.”
Learn about more tips on fire safety at http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire.