The Importance of Knowing Fire Safety
Each year, throughout New York City, property managers distribute fire safety information to their residents in compliance with Local Law 10 of 1999. The information contains building specific details and basic instructions on fire emergencies in your building. While it is the job of New York City’s Bravest to “put the blue stuff on the red stuff,” there are a number of pointers New York apartment dwellers should commit to memory.
New York City’s properties involve multiple types of construction. A key factor is whether the building materials are combustible or non-combustible. The difference is critically important in determining if residents should evacuate immediately or remain in their apartments while firefighters do their job. In most cases, in non-combustible buildings residents are advised to shelter in place , as long as they are out of imminent harm, but at all times the instructions of the FDNY are to be followed.
The three most common causes of fire are fires that start in the kitchen, overloaded electrical circuitry and improper wiring, and un supervised candles and cigarettes. Most of these fire dangers are easily avoidable if certain precautions are taken.
Kitchen Fires: Kitchen fires are most typically caused by oil or grease in or on top of the oven, usually they start when someone wanders off or gets distracted while cooking. This is a sure way to ruin more than just dinner. Every kitchen should have a portable fire extinguisher handy. All members of the household should be well versed in knowing how to use a fire extinguisher. Become familiar enough with its location and operation that its use is an instinctual response. Doing so can save you more than just your kitchen.
Overloaded Electrical Circuitry: If you are repeatedly tripping a circuit breaker, it’s overloaded! Heaters, Hair dryers and other small appliances can draw a lot of electricity and are liable to overload a system if piled on with the use of multiple extension cords or power strips. No electrical power supply cord or wall outlet should be warm or HOT to the touch. If you have any doubts about the safety of your electrical outlets or wiring, contact your property manager immediately.
Open Flames and Cigarettes: The open flame of a candle or an unattended cigarette are common causes of house fires. Most often, residents fall asleep while smoking, allowing embers to drop to the carpet or the bed, and ignite. A forgotten candle is always dangerous. A burning ember in a mattress can remain incubating for hours before igniting into a room-filling inferno. Be extremely attentive with any open flame, whether it be the stove, candle, cigarette or cigar.
Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family
The two easiest forms of fire prevention are knowledge and a working set of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, both of which are regularly tested to ensure they are in working order. Check detectors often (at least monthly) and replace their batteries at least once a year. Many people routinely replace their detector batteries when changing to and from Daylight Savings Time, an easy semi-annual date to remember.
Should a fire occur in your apartment, call 911 first, then call the lobby staff if available, leave the apartment immediately, and close (do not lock) all doors while exiting. New York City is fortunate to have quick Fire Department response times, which can often contain the fire to a room, or at least the apartment of its occurrence, limiting the amount of damage to the building as a whole. The FDNY’s water source is street-side hydrants and/or in buildings over six stories, the red fire standpipe lines that you see in the public stairwells. NEVER obstruct the stairs or the standpipe system by using the stairwells as a storage area. It is a serious building code violation and a dangerous obstruction to you and your neighbors as well as responding firefighters. Forget about using the elevators unless you have been directed to do so by the FDNY. Unfortunately, elevators can end up traveling to the floor where the fire is located.
When your property manager sends out the fire safety materials, take the time to read and understand them, if you have a question……..ask!! Next, be sure to create a safety plan for you and your family. It can be as simple as setting a specific meeting place outside, or a common person to contact. Practicing fire safety is something everyone in the household must participate in, use a date the family has in common like an anniversary and take a few minutes to review your apartments safety plan.
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