Free Home Fire Safety Inspections Available for Springfield Residents
The Springfield Fire Department is offering free home safety inspections to identify potential fire risks for homeowners. KSMU's Kathryn Eutsler attended an inspection and spoke with firefighters about the importance of these precautions.
Eighty percent of Springfield’s fatal fires happen in residences, according to the fire department, which hopes to reduce this percentage with home safety inspections.
The inspections take approximately an hour, and involve evaluation of various safety items in the home, including smoke and CO alarms, kitchen and cooking hazards, bedroom fire safety and electrical safety.
When it comes to smoke alarms, firefighters say proper placement is key.
“Now this one, here, is actually a little high in the corner.”
That’s Captain Tim Gerkey, one of the firefighters who conducts the inspections. Location of smoke alarms is extremely important, he says, and there are specific guidelines for proper placement.
“The reason you do that six inches out of the corner is when the room fills with smoke, the smoke doesn’t catch this part right here,” Gerkey explains.
Next, the home’s alternate escape routes are evaluated. The firefighters make sure windows and screens can be easily opened.
“Looks like this one is actually just jammed in here, it doesn’t look like it fits correctly.”
After any needed improvements are noted, the inspection moves to the kitchen.
Here, the firefighters check for fire hazards within 3’ of the stove, location of cleaning products and stove and oven damages that could be potential fire risks or burn hazards.
“We’re going to put ‘needs improvement’ on that, and I’m going to put down ‘oven handle needs repaired.’”
In addition to evaluating the safety of the house itself, firefighters ensure the people in the house know what to do in case of a fire.
“So the fire alarm is going off, what are you going to do?”
One important aspect, Gerkey says, is creating an easily accessible evacuation plan, which he recommends placing on the refrigerator. The escape plan should also identify a place for the home’s residents to meet after evacuating.
“Here’s my advice to you: when we say meeting place, we want a designated actual spot they are going to.”
General fire safety is also addressed, such as accessible fire extinguishers, airspace around the television and stairwells and hallways free from obstructions.
When the inspection and evaluation is complete, the firefighters give the residents a checklist, identifying areas in need of improvement.
Gerkey says the fire department hopes the checklist brings awareness to preventing fire dangers in the home.
“That’s the reason we’re offering these now, as part of helping people realize what the hazards are to help combat the fatalities in residential fires,” Gerkey says.
You can find out more information, or schedule a fire inspection for your home, here.