Home Fire Safety by Kurt Bertuzzi

April 28, 2008

Here is some valuable information submitted by one of our Zacatitos neighbors, Kurt Bertuzzi. Kurt is an almost retired fireman and provides some valuable information on how to protect our homes from fire.

Living on the East Cape, as we all know, requires tenacity and self
sufficiency. I am retiring after 31 years in the fire service and I
would like to share some of that experience.By implementing a few rules
you can greatly reduce the chance of fire and if a fire occurs limit the
amount of injury and property damage. Remember, Keep your wits about you
when faced with the fire. You are the only one that is going to prevail
over the fire.

When it comes to home fire safety, as a homeowner, you can reduce the
chance of a fire and/or greatly reduce the risk to life and property
loss. First, you must begin with fire prevention and basic fire

Fire requires three elements to align in order for a fire to occur. Fire
needs fuel, heat and air. Remove any of the three elements and the fire
will be extinguished. In most cases, you will be removing the heat or
the air to extinguish the fire. Most likely, extinguishment will occur
from the use of a portable fire extinguisher or water. In some cases you
will remove the fuel source.

In your residence, a fire is most likely to occur in your kitchen area a
bedroom, garage and palapa area. If a fire occurs in the palapa area,
expect it to burn like a dead Christmas tree. If you do not extinguish
the fire in the immediately, just hope to protect the exposed areas of
your home. In the kitchen a fire is most likely to occur in the are of
the stove and extend to the cabinets. Food on the stove or in the oven
is the most likely cause. However, you may have a failure of the propane
system. With food on the stove or in the oven, the easiest way to
extinguish the fire is to turn of the flame source (propane) or simply
remove the food from the fire. If there is a larger fire in your oven
and you open the oven door the fire will increase in size. If you have
an interior oven fire, SHUT THE OVEN DOOR AND LEAVE IT SHUT until you
are prepared with an extinguisher and/or turn off the propane valve. If
the oven fire has extended to the cabinets you will need your
extinguisher(s) to prevail. The other source of fire comes from small
appliances on your counter top. If you have problems with an electrical
counter top appliance, just discard the unit and buy a new one. You do
not want a fire starting with the appliance while you are sleeping.
Remember even if you are not using the appliance it can ignite because
it is plugged in to an electrical source.

In the garage, you have the greatest number of sources for a fire. There
is fuel in your vehicles, solvents, paints electrical equipment, solar
equipment, batteries, and generators. All these items can lead to an
exceptional fire. If you notice any liquid under your vehicle, determine
the type of liquid and make the necessary repair. Know how to disconnect
your solar system, generator, solar batteries and discard solvent
materials in a METAL trash can with a cover. Never check your battery
fluid level in your dark garage with a lighter. The fumes are very
flammable. Yes, people do it all the time.In a bedroom the most likely
source will come from the homeowner. Fire occurs in the bedroom most
likely occurs from smoking in bed or from the use of candles. Hopefully,
you will be awake if a fire occurs. If the fire spreads to the bedding
you will need your extinguisher to prevail. In case if a propane fire
from a faulty piece of equipment (water heater, stove, dryer broken or
deteriorated supply line, your best option to extinguish the fire is to
simply CLOSE the valve at your propane tank. If you have a fire at the
valve of the propane tank, be prepared for a loud hissing noise from the
pressurized propane. In this case, I recommend to protect exposed
property, stay clear of the tank and let the fuel burn itself out. There
is a chance of tank failure. Make sure that everyone in the home knows
how to turn off the propane valve

Proper FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT is your best defense when prevention has
failed. I recommend you purchase multi-purpose
extinguishers. The correct size and type is a 2A10BC and is indicated on
the extinguisher. This is NOT the typical small extinguisher you carry
in your car or boat. This extinguisher is twice the size. This
extinguisher will extinguish normal combustibles, electrical and
flammable liquid fires. I recommend that you keep one extinguisher in
your kitchen and place it away from the stove area. For your bedroom or
living area, place one extinguisher in a common area of the home. If you
have a two story home place one extinguisher upstairs. For the garage
area, place one extinguisher at the furthest point away from your
ignition sources. Also, I would place one extinguisher outside the
garage area in case you are presented with a fire that has escalated in
size and you do not have access to the extinguisher in the garage. One
extinguisher for the palapa area. Do not leave any lights on in the
palapa are when you are not present. Home Depot or Costco sells the
extinguishers for about 20 dollars. While you are there, pick up a small
metal trash can for all your solvent rags.

If you have any questions or need further information feel free to
contact me at kurt2cabo@cox.net

Kurt Bertuzzi