Fire officials stress heating safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire officials stress heating safety

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November 29, 2006

Albany--  After a couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather, changes are on the way. Daytime has brought pleasant weather to the Good Life City recently. But soon, nighttime will bring cold temps and more danger, particularly with the homeless population.

"During these times when the weather gets cold or rainy, they're getting out of the elements," said Deputy Chief David Eddins with the Albany Fire Department. Many get out of the elements and into potential trouble. A lot of the times that trouble is in rundown or abandoned homes.

"At times, they will use poor judgement and actually try to start a fire to keep warm in there," said Eddins.

A 46-year-old Albany man who fire investigators call a vagrant is now charged with arson after a fire to cook food got out of control in an Albany vacant home. Also Wednesday, an Atlanta fireman died from injuries suffered fighting a fire started by vagrants.

"It causes property damage to someone else's property and potential loss of life to the individuals in there with them," said Eddins. Eddins says everyone needs to be aggressive with safety measures when colder weather sets in.

One big fire starter is space heaters.  He stresses keeping a three-foot radius all the way around it and most importantly he wants people to realize that they're not meant to be run all day and night.

"We find people do that a lot, just use that as their main source of heat and it actually overdoes the system," says Eddins. That of course causes fires.  People can prevent that by also making sure their main heating appliances are safe.

"Make sure that they're operating properly. Get a certified person in to check them. Make sure there's no leaks and also still make sure they have a clear way around them," said Eddins. Another heating danger? Using the oven as a heating source.

"Under no circumstances do we suggest that an oven is used. If it's a gas appliance, it can actually cause the oxygen content to lessen inside," said Eddins. As more people head inside to stay warm, fire officials want to prevent homes from ending up like this. This time, no lives were lost but each fire is different.

"It could easily be different in the future," said Eddins. Early warnings and adherence to those warnings could stop flames from going up as temperatures go down.

Deputy Chief Eddins also stresses the importance of having smoke alarms. Make sure fresh batteries are in them and they're working properly at all times.  

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