FDNY offers CB 11 winter fire safety tips

Capt. Kevin Anderson, of the FDNY Fire Safety Division, gives tips for avoiding household fires during the Community Board 11 meeting. Photo by Kelsey Durham
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A member of the city Fire Department’s City Safety Division addressed the public and members of Community Board 11 this week, warning against some of the most common causes of fires at this time of year and providing helpful tips on ways to prevent them.

At the board’s monthly meeting Monday night Capt. Kevin Anderson singled out two common household items that could potentially prove dangerous this time of year: Christmas trees and space heaters. With the holiday season now coming to an end, Anderson said real fir trees still remaining in living rooms are often some of the most common causes of household fires if not handled properly.

“They’re still inside homes, they’re sitting against radiators drying out and people usually aren’t watering them,” he said. “All it needs is the slightest spark.”

Anderson said the trees, especially if dried up, spark with a tremendous amount of force and can engulf the room in flames in about one minute. Because of their vulnerability to fire, he also warned against leaning trees against houses once they are taken outside to be disposed of.

Another item commonly found in homes during the winter months is space heaters, Anderson said, which need to be properly maintained as well in order to prevent fires. Space heaters should be plugged directly into wall outlets, he explained, rather than into power strips that are tailored more toward small electronics.

Keeping boilers maintained as well as making sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly are also important measures to take, according to Anderson, and having a plan in place in the event a fire does break out could be make all the difference.

“The most important thing with private dwellings is having a plan,” said Anderson. “You have to do fire drills at home, too, especially in private dwellings.”

Because most houses have more than one way out, Anderson said establishing a meeting place is the key to any successful fire evacuation plan, preventing residents from re-entering a burning home in search of family members who may have escaped a different way.

“In the light of day, just think. Go through it,” he said.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 9:02 am, January 14, 2014
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