Fire chief explains first steps to stay safe before turning on heating devices

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Cold weather means firing up a heating device, but a local fire chief explains what steps to take first that will keep your family safe.

“Everybody puts things off until the last minute, and that’s where the dangers come into place,” Clifton Park Fire Chief Art Hunsinger said. “People don’t think right away, you know, it needs to be checked before you start firing it up.”

With fireplaces, Hunsinger said chimneys should be cleaned.

“The wood that you burned last year, all of the creosote that built up in the chimney is still there,” he explained.

If the chimney isn’t clean, a fire could start.

“You can ignite that creosote, which causes a chimney fire,” Hunsinger said. “Chimney gets hot, starts the wood on fire, starts the side of the house on fire.”

In the case of furnaces, the problem is clogged filters. Hunsinger said furnaces need to be serviced and filters need to be checked before use.

“They’ll fire ‘em up, and it’ll be working for about a week, and then the problem occurs,” he said.

As for space heaters, make sure to place them in appropriate places away from anything flammable.

“Like drapes and curtains and garbage bags,” Hunsinger said. “You know, any place that these things put off enough heat that they’re too close to.”

Hunsinger said the number of chimney fires can fluctuate. Some years there will only be two, and others, there will be 12 to 15. He said it all depends on how cold it gets and how often people use them.

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