DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
January 15, 2009 Kristin Milam
State Fire Marshal Joins National Partners in Declaring National Fire Emergency
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the most recent 2008 statistics for North Carolina fires and fire fatalities. Across the state over the past year, there have been 4,987 reported structure fires, which caused at least 24 fatalities and 220 injuries. Commissioner Goodwin, who also serves as the state fire marshal, joins the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), among others, in declaring a fire emergency across the country.
"Sadly, North Carolina is no exception to the same fire problems facing the country," said Commissioner Goodwin. "Nationally, this has been one of the deadliest holiday seasons in recent history, which is why I want to remind all North Carolinians just how important fire safety and prevention is - to prevent future tragedies in our state." Since Thanksgiving, more than 200 people have died in fires across the nation according to the NASFM.
With cold weather facing North Carolina, fire safety is especially important because home fires peak during the winter months. Fortunately, most fires are preventable, so to keep your family and property safe, following these fire prevention tips:
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.

  • Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

  • Never use your oven or outdoor grills for home heating.

  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.

  • For wood burning stoves, install chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer's instructions or have a professional do the installation.

  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.

  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
General fire and smoking safety tips also include:
  • If you smoke, smoke outside.

  • Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.

  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

  • Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.

  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.

  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.

  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's sight and reach.
-- OSFM --