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HEATING YOUR HOME SAFELY THIS WINTER

Nov 5, 2020

As the weather has been changing and it’s been getting colder, we want to take this opportunity to remind you about home heating safety.

Did you know?

  • Home fires occur more in the winter months than during any other time of the year.
  • Heating is the second leading cause of home hires, behind cooking fires.
  • Heating equipment is also one of the leading causes of home fire deaths.

Whether you are heating your home with a furnace, space heater, wood stove, or fireplace, here are some tips to stay safe this winter.

Smoke Alarms

  • Have working smoke alarms in your home.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on each level of your home and in each bedroom.
  • Test the alarms each month.
  • If you have replaceable batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every ten years, even if they are hard-wired.

Furnace

  • Never use an oven or BBQ grill to heat your home.
  • Have your furnace and vent checked each year by a qualified professional. A well-tuned furnace will operate more efficiently.
  • Make sure that the equipment is vented properly to the outside.
  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the furnace. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • If you smell gas in your furnace, do not light your appliance. Leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.

Space Heaters – Electric

  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the heater. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over it will shut off. Make sure you place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Do not use extension cords or power strips.  Inspect the cord/plug to make sure they are not damaged.
  • Only use portable heaters tested by a recognized testing laboratory, like UL, ETL, etc.
  • Turn off and unplug the heater before you go to sleep or leave your home.

Wood-Burning and Pellet Stoves

  • Have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the stove. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Wood stoves should be listed by a qualified testing laboratory, like UL, ETL, etc.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood or pellets. Do not burn paper.
  • Keep the doors of your stove closed unless you are loading or stoking the fire.
  • To help prevent chimney fires and/or CO gas leaks, have the chimney/vent cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Fireplace

  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the fireplace. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Never burn trash in the fireplace. Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire. Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline, to start a fire.
  • Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.
  • To help prevent chimney fires and/or CO gas leaks, have the chimney/vent cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Carbon Monoxide

You might ask, what is carbon monoxide and why should I care?  Carbon monoxide, CO, is called the “invisible killer” because it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, poisonous gas.  It is caused from the incomplete combustion of fuel-burning appliances; fuels such as gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or other fuels.  Faulty equipment, incorrect or blocked venting, or improperly-used appliances such as stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, dryers, etc. came give off CO gas.

Since we can’t detect CO with our senses, it is important to install CO alarms on each level of your home, close to all of the bedrooms, and at least 15-20 feet from appliances.  The first symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning can feel like the flu: headache, dizziness, or nausea.  More severe poisoning can cause vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, lack of coordination, loss of consciousness, and even death.

  • Remember to test your CO alarms every month.
  • Replace your CO alarm based on manufacturer’s guidelines, approximately every 5-7 years, or when the alarm starts chirping with the “end of useful life” chirp sequence.
  • Know the difference between an alarm sound and a chirp. Check the back of the alarm to determine what the sounds means.
  • If your CO alarm sounds an alarm, get to fresh air and call 9-1-1.

Did you Know?

 

  • You should replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year.
  • Creating a defensible space with regards to wildfires could just save your home or property.

Media Contact

  • Julie Happy
  • 509-892-4155

Commissioner Patrick Burch

Board Member Since: July 18, 2016
Current term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Burch was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in July 2016 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. Commissioner Burch is co-owner and Business Manager of Neurotherapy Northwest. He became a volunteer member of the Department’s CERT Team in 2008 and later served as a team leader/member of Fire Corps.

“I admire the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s focus on continuous improvement. Our dedication to the community, fiscal responsibility and the fact that we are one of the few accredited fire departments in the State of Washington all make SVFD great!”

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Burch was elected by voters in November 2017.

Commissioner Mike Kester

Board Member Since: January 1, 2020
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Mike Kester was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners in November, 2019.

Commissioner Kester grew up in the Spokane area and has a deep appreciation for just how fortunate we all are to live in this beautiful area. He believes that being involved in this community is not something to take lightly.

His background includes joining the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G) after high school and serving on a port firefighting boat doing search and rescue in Portland, Oregon.  After the Coast Guard, he attended the University of Montana earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management.  He then went on to work for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, serving in their Parks Department.

Spokane was the next step in his career. He  went to work for the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad and the next 22 years was spent as a conductor moving freight. Commissioner Kester  retired in 2010 after a workplace injury and now,  he and his wife enjoy making meals for World War II Veterans, helping out at the YMCA ,and providing meals for those in need.

“In the 25 years of being a resident of the Spokane Valley the professionalism of the SVFD has inspired me to take an active part in bettering our community. We have one of the best fire departments in the whole Pacific Northwest. My wife and I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I have dedicated my life to keeping them safe.  I want to apply that dedication to our community.  Keeping us all safe is a goal we should all aspire to in one way or another. Communication within the department and with the public is, and always will be one of my primary goals.”

Commissioner John Guarisco

Board Member since: August 27, 2018
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2027

Commissioner Guarisco was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in August 2018 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. Commissioner Guarisco founded Marjoni Marketing in 2004 and in 2010 merged with MDI marketing. He then pursued Real Estate, earning his license and now, currently serves the greater Spokane area as a licensed Realtor. He has long been active in the community and has won numerous awards during his career including the Volunteer of the Year (2014) and the Community Caring Award (2010) from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.  He is a member of the Greater Spokane Valley Rotary Club and holds an AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College.

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Guarisco was elected by voters in November 2019.

Commissioner Bill Anderson

Board Member since: January 1, 2000
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2023

Commissioner Anderson served our community as a Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighter for 29 years. Throughout his career, he worked as a firefighter, dispatcher and engineer before he was promoted and became an officer. He was Station Captain of Millwood Station 2 when he retired in 1999. During his years as firefighter, he was an active leader of Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876 and served as a trustee on the Washington State Council of Firefighters for 25 years.

“It’s important to me that we continue the good service we’ve always given the people. We’ve accomplished a lot and are pulling in the same direction to get better. I’m very proud of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.”

Commissioner Brian Asmus

Board Member Since: June 14, 2021
Current term expires: 

Commissioner Brian Asmus was appointed to the Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners in 2021.

Commissioner Asmus is the former Liberty Lake Police Chief and current Director of Safety and Security at Central Valley School District (CVSD).

“Brian Asmus brings extensive Public Safety leadership experience, and a long history of being actively engaged in his community to his new role as a SVFD Commissioner,” said SVFD Fire Chief, Bryan Collins. “During his time as a Police Chief, Brian interacted with SVFD firefighters and administrators on a regular basis, making him very familiar with our structure, standing within our communities, as well as with many of our current SVFD board members and personnel. Brian’s experience working and collaborating on regional issues aligns nicely with SVFD’s philosophy and will help us continue to be a catalyst for local and regional excellence and innovation.”

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