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Fire officials say cleaning home heating equipment every year can help prevent fires

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Deputy Fire Chief Elton Davis with the Syracuse Fire Department.

The Syracuse Fire Department said heating is the second leading cause of home fires in the region, and there is an increase in fires during the winter months. Officials said they find a lot of winter fires are caused by heating equipment that has not been serviced properly.

Deputy Fire Chief Elton Davis said furnaces, boilers and chimneys need to be serviced and cleaned every year.

“When we use those chimneys, those things tend to catch fire sometimes if they’re not cleaned properly," Davis said. "With our home heating equipment, getting the filters cleaned, cleaning out registers, making sure those things are burning and working properly, they can prevent fires in the home."  

Space heaters, he said, should also not be left on unattended, and anything combustible should be kept three feet away. 

“We want to have it a little closer to us, so we can actually feel the heat," Davis said. "But if its closer to us, its closer to our clothing, some of those soft combustibles like couches and curtains in the home. Given the dry air and dry weather, they are more likely to pick up and catch on fire this time of year.”

Unattended candles, incense and smoking materials like cigarettes can also start fires. In August, four historic buildings on Syracuse’s north side were destroyed by improperly discarded smoking material. A stove should not be used to heat rooms because it produces toxic carbon monoxide.

Syracuse residents can get smoke detectors and a limited number of carbon monoxide detectors installed for free by calling the Fire Prevention Bureau at (315) 448-4777.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.