West Bloomfield Deputy Fire Marshal Dave DeBoer said he believes preventing fires is everyone’s fight, and the only way to keep fire under control is when everyone in the community works together.
“If everyone did their part by intervening when they see a potential hazard, we’d eliminate fires in the community all together, preventing tragedies from occurring,” DeBoer said.
Still the leading cause of fires nationwide are cooking fires. DeBoer said that many West Bloomfield residents cook in their garages but fail to insert a smoke detector there and/or “run inside for just a minute.”
“It’s amazing how fast that fire can happen and get out of control if you’re not standing by your stove,” DeBoer said. “Oil gives you a lot of indications it’s about to turn on fire, whether that be the smell or smoke coming from it. I would always have a pan lid that fits handy, and if things do start to pick up, turn the heat off and move the pan to another burner. Absolutely don’t put water on it as it turns into a huge fireball and can cause burns.”
For the holidays, DeBoer recommended using battery-operated candles when possible, and when you have real candles, remove everything else around the table that can catch on fire as it’s actually hard to start a table itself on fire. He also said to be sure to have the correct size extension cord to prevent overloaded circuits.
In addition to preventing fires, DeBoer said he highly advises getting carbon monoxide alarms installed. Often called the “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. During 2020 alone, DeBoer said there have been eight situations where West Bloomfield-area families have been saved by the alarms.
“We all know that the alarms exist, and that they protect us, but so many people think it’s not going to happen to them,” DeBoer explained. “You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, so there’s no way to know until you show signs or have symptoms. It can happen to all of us, and it honestly happens a lot more than you think!”