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RE: The importance of paying heed to those clearances and combustibles

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by firefighterjake, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Father and three kids die in a fire.

    When this story broke a day or so ago I had a gut feeling that the cause would somehow be tied into the family's use of the woodstove . . . sad to say today they released the cause: cardboard boxes left too close to the stove.

    Add to this that some lighter fluid was also nearby and may have contributed to the spread and neighbors and firefighters said they did not hear any smoke detectors sounding . . .

    I hated calls like this . . . brought back some pretty raw emotions from a fire I went to many years ago when three kids died in a fire and a fellow firefighter died when he went into cardiac arrest. I know exactly what those Orrington Firefighters are going through right now . . . hell, I think most any firefighter who has been on the job long enough knows what they're thinking and feeling.

    And so here's my rant . . . if you're using flammable liquids to start your fires . . . please stop. There are safer alternatives.

    Clearances . . . don't try to fudge things on the install just because you want more room . . . and don't forget that clearances aren't just for the walls and ceilings, but for stuff in the room . . . including wood, cardboard boxes, kindling, etc. . . . another reason to not pile wood too close (or even on top of the stove as I have seen in the past.)

    Smoke detectors . . . get 'em, make sure they work . . . I am more than happy to answer any question you might have about these potential life saving devices and will probably bore you to death with what I know . . . but these things work . . . but only if they're present and only if they work.

    ---

    http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/...e-to-wood-stove-caused-deadly-orrington-fire/
    Bster13, webbie, tfdchief and 12 others like this.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    What he said.

    Thinking you are saving money to stay warm ain't worth dying for.
  3. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Geez, Jake, I hope you run out of those stories pretty soon!

    As a former FF myself (rural volunteer), the worst incidents were always kids and you never forget.
    ScotO and bag of hammers like this.
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Yeah . . . I don't like these stories . . . I much prefer to tell the stories about partridges running into ambulances.
  5. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Still, sometimes we all need reminders. It can be easy to get complacent with daily activities.
    ScotO and n3pro like this.
  6. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    i hear ya jake, but we need to keep sharing these stories to better demonstrate how important the proper installation and operation of any heating device should be heeded. keep fighting the good fight
    OldLumberKid, BrianK, corey21 and 2 others like this.
  7. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    As a (soon to be) full time rural resident, my sincere thanks to volunteers like you, and to folks like FFJake and all the other smoke eaters out there who've made this their career (apologies if I got the "smoke eater" slang all wrong here...).
    Scott2373, ScotO and stoveguy2esw like this.
  8. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    LOL. I could tell about the time I was driving my company to a structure fire and a Dalmatian ran right in front of me. I could see the headlines now... (No, I didn't hit it)
  9. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    ...and don't, under any circumstances, distractedly lay your butane lighter on top of you insert;em.
  10. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. Actually, truth be told, we love it:)
  11. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    And what, exactly, was the result of that, firebroad?:oops: Or, tell us what you think, might happen?
  12. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Luckily, I discovered my error in time. But had I not, it quite possibly could have gotten hot enough to explode. I'm not really sure how much heat the lighter can tolerate, but I don't really want to find out. Took me a while to train my hand to not let go of it anywhere near the fireplace. At the time though, I sure felt stupid.:(
  13. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    You probably were lucky. Some butane lighters are made very cheaply and I heard about one exploding in hot car once. They are supposed to handle twice the vapor pressure of butane at 131°F, but even that's no match for a stove top!

    Thanks for sharing. It's just one of those things that's so easy to do. Sounds like a good candidate for this thread http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/99-ways-to-burn-your-house-down.91259/
  14. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I don't think adhering to clearances was their problem. I think it was a lifetime of lacking common sense that finally caught up to them.
    ScotO likes this.
  15. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    This sounds a bit like urban legend, but apparently one man actually died from a cheap disposable butane lighter going off in his shirt pocket:

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-rele...r-establish-national-standards-134338803.html

    I recall a hunting buddy and I were camped out by an old logging road back in the middle of nowhere - hot sunny day. Someone dropped an old disposable butane lighter there at some point - probably the previous winter (looked like the road was a winter cut). I have a tendency to clean up a bit when I find trash in the woods so I picked it up and tossed it over by the tent with some other junk that was laying around. I dunno if it hit a rock or whatever but it went off like a blockbuster firecracker. Actually sounded kinda like a .22 short. Probably was sun baked, plastic got brittle, etc. but it caught me by surprise.
  16. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Very good post FFJ. Also very sad to hear that children died in the fire due to negligience of an adult, which is what it boils down to. I also saw the word 'complacent' up there, and that is a big problem. We're ALL guilty of it to some degree. So that being said, check, double check and TRIPLE check things, especially around your woodstove, your kitchen stove, any type of heaters, hair dryers, clothes dryers (clean that damm vent out once in a while!), curling irons, etc. You JUST NEVER KNOW. Make it a common routine to check your smoke detectors monthly or bi-monthly, especially during the heating season (if you don't have smoke detectors, SHAME ON YOU! GO GET THEM NOW!) Always look at the ones to love you and depend on YOUR BEING RESPONSIBLE, and don't take anything for granted.
    firebroad likes this.
  17. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    It's likely true. I wanted to buy some bic-style lighters (just for workshop and general use, mind you) and found some very cheap ones on ebay or something. I looked into them and found that most of the cheap ones are made in China (no big surprise there) and have had a high incidence of failures like this one. The actual Bic brand lighters, as I recall, were the only brand that had a great reputation for safety and reliability. They may be made in China, too, for all I know, but at least they seem to make them well.
    Lynn likes this.
  18. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    They were renting the place for six months so this was their first winter and thats usually an recipe for not knowing how to run a stove. Plenty of renters do but a lot more dont. Generally the homeowners insurance of the homeowner will not cover operation of a stove by a renter and the homewoner is usually required to make sure that smoke detectors are functional so there may be some legal issues coming out of this tradgedy There are a lot of folks these days who are being forced into wood burning as they cant afford oil and despite common sense there are a lot of folks who get away with bad things for quite awhile before they get hurt.

    On one of the cable shows about homesteaders in Alaska I have seen woodstoves in operation in the background with wood piled on top of the stove. It may work for them as they have burnt wood for years but boy what a bad example.
  19. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Fahrenheit 451
  20. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Good thread.

    Sad but a reminder for people not to be lazy when it comes to safety.
  21. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

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    I do practice safe burning and do keep combustible a safe distance from my stove. However everytime I read about a house resulting from combustibles too close to a stove I wonder if there is a little more to it. I have tested the theory by lying things like paper towels, saw dust, cardboard ect. on a 700 degree stove top. I have never been seen any of it ignite.My neighbor has a stove in his shop. The stove is typically caked with dust, sawdust, and whatever is generated in the shop. Non of that has ever ignite either.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What a tragic ending. This would have been so easy to prevent by just moving combustibles a respectable distance away from the stove. I have to wonder why no smoke detectors went off too? Very sad.
  23. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Not saying that this is a good practice; far from it! But I will bet they are piling wood that has become rainsoaked up there to dry it quickly.
  24. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Updated story today is a bit murky . . . investigators say none of the detectors found in the home had batteries . . . father of the man who died claims his son bought a detector that day.
  25. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    So sad. I hear that sort of thing about the batteries around Baltimore all the time. Makes you wonder how many neglected detectors are hanging there forgotten in homes.

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