Residents urged to service heating system

TUPELO – Now that heaters are on, the chances of residential fires are up.
The Tupelo Fire Department is encouraging residents to service their heating units this time of year and use them properly.
Tupelo Fire Marshal Jason Cross and Lee County Fire Marshal Ed Fugit said they see a considerable increase in residential fires the first few weeks when the first cold front rolls in.
“It’s been at least a few months since the furnace has been turned on and the fireplaces being used, so the likelihood of something not working properly is a little higher than the year before,” said Fugit. “Please have your furnaces and fireplaces thoroughly inspected before you fire them up this year. Just because everything was working properly last year doesn’t mean they still will be this one.”
Fugit said fire hazards are often caused by dust and lint buildup in furnaces.
The marshals said fires started by portable heaters are among the most dangerous, even though they only account for 10 percent of all fires. According to statistics by the U.S. Fire Administration, about 30 to 40 percent of heating fires result in injury or death. Cross said when using space heaters and other portable heating devices, people need to be 100 times more cautious.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot to start a fire,” said Cross. “So make sure when you are using heaters, keep all flammable objects away from them. It doesn’t take much heat for a curtain or a piece of clothing to ignite and cause bigger problems.”
Both Cross and Fugit said when using space heaters, they should not be plugged in by extension cords. Most extension cords are not designed to handle those types of heating units.
Halloween also provides an increased fire hazard, Fugit said.
Over a three-day period around Halloween, a three-year average of 15,500 fires caused $92 million in property loss and 175 injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“We see a lot of fires around Halloween from people using candles,” said Fugit. “Our advice is just not to use candles and use flashlights instead.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal