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SafetyTIPS: Chimney and Woodstove Safety

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From 2004 through 2008 in Oregon, there were 2,899 home heating-related fires resulting in 12 deaths, 85 injuries, and more than $42 million in property loss. These heating-related fires also resulted in 34 injuries to firefighters.


Fireplaces

Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning. Always protect your home and your family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only clean, dry, seasoned firewood - never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Do not use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes.  If you decorate your fireplace with Christmas stockings or other seasonal decorations, don't burn fires in it.

 

Wood Stoves

Be sure your wood stove bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Building code information dealing with woodstove installations is available at http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/index.cfm?a=93026&c=45053.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper installation, use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned when necessary. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only clean, dry firewood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved non-combustible stove board or hearth to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Fireplaces and wood burning stoves are auxiliary home heating devices that demand care and attention in their purchase, installation, and maintenance. For someone considering the installation of a wood or coal stove, a fireplace, or a solid-fuel furnace, careful consideration must be given to the safety aspects of the equipment and the installation. Expert advice is often required. Instructions must be followed to the letter.

 

Following these precautions can reduce the possibility of a fire or injury related to woodstove use.

  • All wood burning stoves and fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected before the heating season begins.
  • Make sure that the door latch closes properly.
  • Furnaces and water heaters which have flue pipes attached to the chimney of a fireplace or wood burning stove should have tight fitting joints and seams.
  • Never use liquid fuel to start the fire in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Ashes need to be thoroughly dampened, cooled, and stored outside away from the building in metal cans that are used solely for ash storage, not in compost piles, cartons, boxes or anything else that is combustible.
  • It is important to use only thoroughly dried hardwood. This will prevent or slow the buildup of creosote in the chimney that is the cause of many chimney fires.
  • Have the chimney and flue inspected by a qualified mason or chimney sweep prior to use. Cracks in the flue or mortar joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into the walls or attic of a structure.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out onto the floor.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to provide protection for your family.
  • Although following these precautions should reduce your risk of a chimney fire, be aware of the signs of one and know what to do if you encounter them -- a loud roar, sucking sounds, shaking pipes, hot spots on the wall or chimney, or smoke in the house or apartment. If you hear or see any of these sounds shut off the fire's air supply, get everyone out of the house quickly, and call 911 from a neighbor's phone.

For more fire prevention tips to keep you safe and sound, click here to visit and subscribe to Portland Fire & Rescue's YouTube account.

November 9, 2009

When Should You Seek Medical Care for a Flu-like Illness?

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Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Emergency Department held a news conference on November 6, 2009 to help people with flu-like illness decide when to seek medical care.

Portland-area hospital emergency rooms continue to see heavy volumes of people who think they might have H1N1, but do not.

The Northwest Regional Flu Joint Information Center (NW Regional Flu JIC) has created decision charts to help people determine if they should go to the emergency department.  The NW Regional Flu JIC coordinates public information for Clackamas, Clark, Columbia, Multnomah, and Washington counties in regards to preventing the spread of flu.

The decision charts are also available in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Vietnamese.  Click here to access additional charts.

REMEMBER:  Everyone can help prevent the spread of flu virus by washing hands frequently, coughing into your sleeve, and staying home when you are sick.

November 9, 2009

Compassion in Action: Heroes with Heart Event

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Heroes with Heart Awards Dinner and Auction

The Trauma Intervention Program NW (TIP NW) of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington held their 12th annual Heroes with Heart Awards Dinner and Auction on November 5th, 2009 at the Embassy Suites in Portland, Oregon.  The event was well attended with a bustle of activity, great company, and generous ways to donate to a worthy cause at every turn.

Silent and Live Auctions

The Silent and Live Auctions included over 230 items and baskets that ranged from a Poker Party donated by Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Training & Safety Division Chief Scott Fisher to a condo stay in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico donated by Kristi Butcher.  My favorite was the adorable Lhasa Apso puppy up for auction and donated from the Airpet Hotel, Happy Trails to You Kennel, and Pet Reader.

PF&R personnel stepped up and donated close to 20 fire baskets. Well done Stations 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 19, 25, 26, 29, EMS/BHQ, Historic Belmont Firehouse, Training Center, and 6th Floor Administration!

Main Event

Members of the Portland Fire Honor Guard performed color guard duty to start the dinner portion of the evening off in a respectful and reverent tone.  June Vining, the Executive Director of TIP NW, then extended a heartfelt welcome and thanked everyone for taking part in TIP NW’s efforts to raise money to expand services into neighboring cities and counties and train additional citizens.

During the dinner, Good Samaritan Awards were given to Rentrak Corporation and Officer Mike Kramer with the Oregon City Police Department for exercising an exceptional level of compassion towards the victims and survivors of tragedy.  

 

Why an Annual Dinner and Auction?
The proceeds of the auction directly benefit TIP NW. TIP is a national voluntary nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that those who are emotionally traumatized in emergency situations receive the assistance they need. To accomplish that goal, TIP works closely with local communities to establish emergency services volunteer programs. In these programs, well-trained citizen volunteers are called to emergency scenes to assist family members, witnesses, and other bystanders who the emergency system often must leave behind.

TIP volunteers are available on a 24-hour, 365-day basis to support family members after a death, crime victims, survivors of suicide, children left alone after a death or injury to their parents, senior citizens and anyone else referred to us by emergency responders. TIP NW responded to 2,007 calls last year and served 12,214 citizens the Portland and Vancouver area.

TIP NW is a chapter that serves Multnomah, Clark, and Clackamas Counties, including their newest expansion into Sandy, Oregon. TIP NW volunteers have served citizens in local communities for over sixteen years.

What Can You Do?

Are you interested in assisting citizens in the Portland and Vancouver areas that are in crisis?  Click here to get more information on the upcoming January 2010 TIP Training Academy or visit the official TIP NW website at http://www.tipnw.org.

November 6, 2009

Fire Trivia: Three Elements Needed to Have a Fire

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Each week, the Fire Blog will offer a trivia question and answer to boost your fire IQ:

 

Q:  What three elements must be present at the same time to have a fire?

Think you know the answer?  Post a comment and look for the answer on Monday!

 


 

CONGRATULATIONS DAVID YOUNGER!

Your answer was on fire!

A:  In order to have a fire, there must be three elements:

  • Fuel—something which will burn
  • Heat—enough to make the fuel burn
  • Air—more specifically, oxygen

Usually these three elements are expressed as a triangle, called The Fire Triangle.  All three elements must be present at the same time to have a fire. Fire will burn until one or more of the elements is removed.

Crime Prevention Around the Block, Crime Prevention Around the Clock

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Portland Fire & Rescue was highly visible and had some very positive interactions with community members during this year’s National Night Out celebration on August 4, 2009.

Firefighters from Station 2

Photo courtesy of East PDX News

http://eastpdxnews.com  

National Night Out is a unique community event celebrated the first Tuesday of August each year that focuses on prevention of crime and drug activity. National Night Out is designed to:

  • Heighten community awareness of crime and drug prevention
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
  • Send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back
  • Promote emergency preparedness awareness

On-duty Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters attended 78 neighborhood events, dedicated over 225 staff hours to the National Night Out activities, and made contact with several thousand citizens. The firefighters participated in a wide variety of activities including potlucks, block parties, cookouts, and BBQ’s.  Firefighters also:

  • Displayed a new Pierce fire engine
  • Demonstrated the use of our turnout uniforms and other safety equipment
  • Discussed possible employment opportunities with citizens
  • Assisted animal control with an animal rescue at an event
  • Filled a 500 gallon dunk tank
  • Performed a water display with various nozzles
  • Discussed station remodels and temporary relocations
  • Talked about seasonal fire and safety hazards
  • Explained special responses including responses to hazardous materials situations
  • Handed out badges, plastic helmets, and fire education materials 

For more information, tips for organizing a block party, or how you can celebrate National Night Out in August 2010, click here to be redirected to the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Development’s website.

November 5, 2009