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Committed to the Well Being of the South Placer Community.

 Greetings and welcome to the South Placer Fire Districts Prevention Division. Normal operating hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m. As a focal point in today’s fire service efforts to minimize fire losses in its community, the Prevention Division plays a key role in improving the safety and quality of life of the citizens it serves. Activities of the Prevention Division include business safety inspections, community safety education; plan checking, code enforcement inspections and code enforcement, post fire activities and fire investigation. Please feel free in contacting the Fire Marshal with any fire safe questions that may arise. (916-791-7059)

 

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

 Fire prevention activities actually predate the creation of organized fire departments in the United States. Fire was a constant threat to early European settlements in America. Major fires struck in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608 and Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623.

 

Fire regulations in the early years primarily affected the construction, height, and maintenance of chimneys. The carrying of hot coals from fireplaces to fireplace was also a constant source of large blazes. Wooden building construction aggravated the situation.

 

Boston's 1st Fire EngineBoston banned smoking paraphernalia in 1638. Ten years later, Peter Stuyvesant forbade the use of wood or plaster chimneys in New Amsterdam (New York City). Stuyvesant also appointed four fire wardens who served without pay. They inspected chimneys and patrolled for fire hazards. They also accessed large fines for carelessness. The fines were used to buy firefighting buckets, ladders, and hooks.

 

 

Arson was a problem then as now. A rash of arson fires prompted Boston to pass legislation in 1652 that imposed punishments of flogging or death for convicted arsonists.

 Ben Franklin, America's 1st Fire Chief

Besides inspections of chimneys, fire wardens also preformed fire watch duties in many cities. Patrolling the streets at night, they would use large “rattles” to summons assistance and notify the city of a fire.

 Ben Franklin, the father of the organized volunteer fire service, also was an early supporter of fire prevention. His words, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” are famous. In addition to inventing the efficient and safe “Franklin stove,” he also was a proponent of chimney cleaning and the proper handling of burning Materials.

 

Even when rudimentary fire apparatus was introduced in major U.S. cities during the first half of the 18th century, fires still were a major threat. Major conflagration, some larger than even today’s biggest fires, continued to plague our cities into the 20th century.

 

These conflagrations were the impetus for the fire service to begin to take an active role in fire prevention activities. The National Association of Fire Engineers (later to become the International Association of Fire Chief) during its first annual meeting in 1873 developed a list of fire safety concerns:

  1. The limitation of disuse of combustible materials in the structure of buildings, the reduction of the excessive height in buildings, and restriction of the dangers of elevators, passages, hatchways, and mansards.
  1. The isolations of each apartment in a building from other apartments and every building from those adjacent by high party walls.
  1. The safe construction of heating apparatus.
  1. The presence and care of trustworthy watchmen in warehouses, factories, and theaters, especially during the night.
  1. The regulation of the storage of inflammable materials and use of same for heating or illumination. Also the exclusion of rubbish liable to spontaneous ignition.
  1. The most available method for the repression of incendiarism (arson).
  1. A system of minute and impartial inspection after the occurrence of every fire, and rigid inquiry into the causes, with reference to future avoidance.
  1. Fire escapes actually serviceable for invalids, women, and children.

 

It is interesting that many of the recommendations outlined above were the basis for a number of our current fire and building code requirements.

 

Seasonal Safety Reminder

KEEP WOOD BURNING FIREPLACES CLEAN

 Due to the increased consumer interest in wood heat due to the emergency crunch, the chimney and venting experts are urging people with wood burning fire places, as well as wood stoves, to follow safe wood burning habits this winter. Have chimneys inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a certified chimney sweep. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.

 

What is creosote? The combustion process when wood is burned is never complete. The smoke from a wood fire usually contains a dark brown or black substance which has an unpleasant odor. This tar-like substance is called creosote and is found almost anywhere in a wood heating system. Creosote is more of a problem with wood stoves than fireplaces since the exhaust gases from stoves are cooler than those from fireplaces.

 

Be Prepared for a Chimney Fire: No wood burning system is 100% safe and fire-proof. A safe installation and extra care help prevent fire, but accept the idea that there could be a fire, and be prepared to handle it. Chimney fires are most likely to occur during a very hot fire, as when cardboard or Christmas tree branches are burned or even when a stove burns normal wood but at a higher than normal rate.

 

Make certain everyone in the house is familiar with the warning signs of a chimney fire – sucking sounds, a loud roar and shaking pipes. Instruct everyone on what to do in case of a fire. Practice fire drills and instruct all adults on how and when to use a fire extinguisher.

 

If You Have a Chimney Fire:

a)      Call 911 immediately having the fire department respond. 

b)      If all the stove pipe joints are tight and no other appliance is connected to the same flue, close all openings and draft controls if you have an air-tight stove. Close the stove pipe damper in a non-air-tight stove. 

c)      If you have a leaky stove or fireplace you may have to wait for the fire to burn out. 

d)      Get everyone out of the house, and put them to work watching for sparks or signs of fire on the roof or nearby. One adult should stay in the house to check the attic and upper floors for signs of fire. 

e)      Discharge a class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher or throw baking soda to the stove or fireplace if the chimney is not sound or there is a danger of the house or surroundings catching on fire. The chemical travels up the chimney and often extinguishes the flame. 

f)       Throwing water in a stove will cause the metal to warp, but if it’s a choice between the house or the stove, use water. 

g)      REMEMBER: If a chimney fire occurs once, chances are it will occur again.

 

Chimneys needs to be cleaned to remove creosote and soot deposits. This will prevent chimney fires and improve draft.