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Firefighters put spotlight on avoiding winter fire hazards

The Syracuse Fire Department fights a fire caused by a propane heater
Syracuse Fire Department
Syracuse Fire Department
The Syracuse Fire Department fights a fire caused by a propane heater

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports space heaters account for about 1,700 fires each year across the country, and central New York is no exception.

Deputy Fire Chief John Kane from the Syracuse Fire Department said the department has fought multiple fires so far this year caused by electric and propane heaters. He said propane heaters can generate carbon monoxide and should never be used indoors.

He recommends not using electric heaters either, but he said if people do anyway, they should follow some safety tips.

"Keep them 10 feet away from any combustibles, papers, piles of laundry, things like that,” said Kane. “When you leave the room, turn the space heater off. Don't sleep with your space heater running. Don't plug them into extension cords."

Fireplaces can also quickly turn into fire hazards. Kane recommends having chimneys cleaned and inspected every year and only burning hard woods, not construction debris, plastics, or trash.

Kane said neighbors can help the fire department by making sure any hydrants near their homes are free from snow. After a storm, fire companies work to dig out hydrants, but there are 5,500 hydrants across the city, and fire engines only carry enough water to get through the first few minutes of a firefight.

"The firefighter that's tasked with hooking up to the fire hydrant, if that individual has to dig the hydrant out from underneath a snow bank, that's valuable time wasted that we simply don't have," said Kane.

Also, since moments can make a big difference, Kane reminds neighbors to make sure their smoke detectors are properly installed and working at all times.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.