It's been a busy season for house fires in our region and we all know how devastating that experience is! The best defense against fire is prevention of course and Oneonta's Assistant Fire Chief, Jim Maloney sat down with me to talk about this important topic.

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney of the Oneonta Fire Dept.

Check out Jim's fire safety tips below...

- Chimneys: have a professional clean your chimney once a year if you burn wood or pellets.  If you have purchased a home recently with a fireplace or wood stove, don’t burn anything until you’ve had the chimney inspected and cleaned.

- Kerosene and electric space heaters: Make sure the heater has a UL stamp on it for product safety. Be careful of small children around it, to prevent children from being burned or knocking the heater over.  Make sure heaters are at least 3 feet away from any combustible material.  If you have animals, make sure they can’t get close to it or knock it over. Always shut off space heaters when you leave the house, just like you never leave a candle burning, or the stove on when you are not at home.

- Wall Decor: Be careful where you hang tapestries and other flammable decorative wall/ceiling items.  You can purchase those with a flame retardant in them.

- Brush fires in the Spring: Adhere to the New York State burn ban which starts in March and ends in May. Brush fires can easily happen because of dried out organic material from winter that is on top of the soil and easily catches fire, even with a small spark.

- Fire pits and bonfires: With any outdoor fire make sure you have a means to extinguish the fire nearby, before you start the fire, in order to keep it under control.  For fire pits, in the City of Oneonta, you need a screen over the top of your fire to stop sparks from flying out. ALWAYS extinguish the fire before you leave.

- Electrical Fire Prevention: To prevent electrical fires, only use an extension cord with a surge protector in your house and don’t use more than one extension cord for something (don’t connect two or more together, get the appropriate length cord for your needs). Never run extension cords under carpeting where they can spark after getting worn down and catch the carpeting on fire.

Kitchen grease fires: With a grease fire coming from a pot or pan, since fires need oxygen, cut off the oxygen supply by putting a top on the pot or pan. That could be a matching lid or cookie sheet. You could also use a wet dish towel. Do this by staying as far away from the fire as possible. If the fire spreads to the stovetop, call 911. Fire can hide behind appliances over the stove, like microwave ovens.  Firefighters have thermal imaging equipment that can tell them if the fire got into the wall or not. It’s always better to be safe than sorry so call 911! If you’ve been told that baking soda puts out grease fires, that is true, however, while you are shaking baking soda over the fire, you could easily get burned by the flames. Fire extinguishers will work but don’t spray down into the fire since it can splatter the grease since the contents of a fire extinguisher come out with a lot of force. Stand back far enough when discharging. Adhere to the directions on your extinguisher.

Smoke Detectors: Put one on every floor of your house, especially outside bedrooms, on the ceiling is best for mounting them.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors: You should have one on every floor of your house.  Locate them near appliances with open flames like stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, and your hot water heater.

For more tips on fire safety/fire prevention:
 - The National Fire Protection Association
- NYS Dept. of Homeland Security’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control