Fire Safety

Fire Extinguisher Use

In every family, there comes a time when use of a fire extinguisher is inevitable. Although, we hope you never need to, we would like you to be prepared. Please note the following tips and advice to keep you, your family, and your property safe.

Purchase an all-purpose fire extinguisher for your home. It is labeled as an ABC extinguisher and should suffice for the type of fires you could have in your home.

Keep fire extinguishers close by problem or high hazard areas, such as the kitchen, garage, storage shed, and/or RV.

Extinguishers do have an expiration date and sometimes lose their pressure. Check to make sure your gauge is in the green about every six months or so.

If a small fire breaks out in your home, remember to stay calm and follow the P.A.S.S. steps in using your fire extinguisher. If possible, have someone else call 9-1-1.

P – Pull:  Pull the safety pin/ring on the handle of the extinguisher.

A –  AIM:  Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. You want the fire retardant to reach what is actually burning, not just the flame.

S –  SQUEEZE:  Squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher making sure that the nozzle is still pointed at the base of the fire.

S –  SWEEP:  Sweep the nozzle back and forth on the base of the fire as you walk closer to the fire.

Once the fire is out, make sure you DO NOT turn your back on the fire. Back away and watch for flare ups. Call 9-1-1 and state you have just had a fire in your home. It is important you report the fire, even if you have already put it out!



Barbecue Safety

Propane gas is highly flammable. Each year, about 600 fires or explosions occur with gas grills resulting in injuries to about 30 people. According to NFPA, (National Fire Protection Association) in 1999 alone, gas and charcoal grills combined resulted in 1,500 structure fires and 4,200 outdoor fires in or on home properties, resulting in a combined direct property loss of $29.8 million. The Wescott Fire Department would like to help you this summer with tips on how to keep your afternoon or evening BBQ safe and fun!


When using barbecue grills on decks or patios, be sure to leave sufficient space (2-3 ft.) from siding and eaves. Also, make sure that the grill is on a sturdy surface, if possible on concrete.  Keep children and pets far away from grills.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and have the grill repaired by a professional, if necessary.  Do not wear loose fitting clothing and make sure to tie back long hair.

  • For charcoal grills, only use lighter fluid designed for grills.
  • Never use gasoline and do not add lighter fluid to an already lit fire.
  • Never bring charcoal grills indoors. Burning charcoal produces deadly carbon monoxide. Also, bringing a grill indoors creates the possibility of a fire breaking out in your home.
  • Do not leave a grill unattended. It could be possible for the flame to get out of control and start a larger fire.  Have a water bottle on hand to control any flare-ups created from dripping grease.
  • Always dispose of charcoal in an approved metal container. Do not place in a plastic bag or container.  Always make sure that the fire and charcoal are completely extinguished.
  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
  • Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing. Applying soapy water to the hoses will easily and safely reveal any leaks.
  • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
  • Make sure you are using a new safety approved tank. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you use tanks put into service after April 1st 2002. If your tank is older than that, replace it for about the cost of $15-25 plus the price of propane. How do you know if your tank is within date? A date should be printed on the label, however if you still can not tell, count the number of prongs in the connection. The new tanks have 3 prongs and the old tanks have 5 prongs.  Disposal of old obsolete bottles should never be handled by your local trash removal company. Appropriate disposal sites can be found by contacting your local city or county government.
  • Always keep propane gas containers upright.
  • Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
  • Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
  • Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.  Have a water bottle on hand to control any flare-ups created from dripping grease.
  • Never bring the propane tank into the house.
  • Always double check to make sure that the tank has been turned off.


Juvenile Firesetting


Kids will be kids, right? Wrong. Children’s curiosity with fire is a natural progression in critical thinking and growth; however parents of children playing with or setting fires need to understand that this is not natural and very dangerous. According to the International Fire Marshals Association, in 1999 alone 41,900 child-playing fires were reported in the United States, (keep in mind that not every fire is reported). These reported fires resulted in165 civilian deaths, 1,901 civilian injuries and over $272 million in damages. It is a very serious issue. Parental behavior and supervision is a significant factor in many of these cases. Access to lighters and matches accounted for 72% of the reported fires in 1999 which caused 87% of the civilian deaths. Lack of supervision by adults or guardians proved crucial to these fire play/setting incidents. Any parent knows that a quiet room with children in it is a rare thing. If your kids are quiet, check in on them. Of the structures fires noted above in the home, the items ignited can be most commonly found in the bedrooms or on your child. These items include mattresses, bedding and clothing. These fires are often set accidentally by lighters. Often times, children will hide under beds or covers because they are doing something they are not supposed to do. Trash fires are a close second to those listed above which are primarily set by match play. A child will light a match, think that they may have blown it out and throw it away. Little do they know that the match is still hot or not completely extinguished, causing materials within the trash can to ignite. All big fires start small, children may set a small fire thinking that they can put it out and before they know it, it is out of control. For the safety of your children, your home, and yourself, please supervise your children!


As stated before, curiosity about fire is common. Think about how much you use fire in your home. Fire is often times used for celebrations or enjoyment. You light candles on a birthday cake and sing. You light candles for holidays to celebrate or decorate. You have a big 4th of July celebration with a lit barbeque and fireworks. It is easy to see how children are used to seeing fire and view it as fun, although it is not always safe. Inappropriate use of fire has serious consequences. So keep in mind, all fires start out small and grow big. Just like your child.

If your child is between 0-2 years old:
  • Children typically do not understand what fire is or where it comes from.
  • Most often children of this age group are carefully supervised as they really can not do much for themselves.
If your child is between 3-4 years old:
  • Children are on the move! This age group loves to explore new things and new places.
  • Children of this age group imitate adults.
  • Children of this age usually start asking questions about fire. Even if its not directly correlated to fire per say; questions may be asked about fire engines, firefighters, and things they may see on TV. (Keep in mind our area news does a pretty good job on reporting wildland, vehicle, and home fires.)
If your child is between 5-7 years old:
  • Children at this age have short attention spans.
  • Children start attending school and socialize outside of the family.
  • Children may pretend to smoke cigarettes or light them to act like an adult.
  • Children may ask to help light fireplaces or the grill.
If your child is between 8-11 years old:
  • Children usually want to do things well and become involved in an activity, i.e. sports, music, scouts, or dance.
  • Children’s social life expands. Children start sleeping over at a friend’s house, where your supervision will be limited to none.
  • Children’s critical thinking kicks in. They know what tools are and will start the process of asking “What will happen if I do this?”
  • In the State of Colorado, children at the age of 10 can be tried as an adult for felony arson.
If your child is between 12-17 years old:
  • Growing adolescents commonly have mood changes and emotional outburst.
  • Children are subjected to peer pressure.
  • Children seek acceptance by others and friends.
  • Adolescents often complain of “boredom” or “nothing to do”.
  • Accelerants (gasoline or aerosols) may be used in conjunction with lighters and matches.
  • Activities in school such as science experiments may spark interest among adolescents and they may experiment outside of school with fire or explosives such as fireworks.
The Curiosity Firesetter:

This type of Firesetter is one that shows curiosity about fire and has not yet been taught about fire safety and may not know right from wrong. The child’s motivation comes from “how does fire work and what does it do?” Their intent is not to start a large fire, hurt someone or destroy property. Tools used by a curiosity firesetters are things usually found around the house, such as cigarette and barbeque lighters, matches, lit candles and stoves. Addressing your child’s curiosity and educating your child on fire safety are the best bet to prevent future firesetting behavior.

Crisis Firesetter:

This type of Firesetter is one who is setting fires in a cry for help due to recent crisis. This may include but not limited to, death of someone significant to the child, divorce, family conflict, school problems, or physical/sexual abuse. These children are trying to communicate their hurt or anger. It is imperative that these children receive the education, counseling and attention they need to prevent these emotions from resulting in firesetting.

Delinquent Firesetter:

This type of Firesetter is one who is setting fires in an attempt for a cure for boredom, defiance, or acceptance of peer pressure. Use of fireworks illegally is also considered firesetting. These Firesetters often show little or no remorse for the fires they may have set and do not recognize the serious consequences of their actions. Addressing this type of Firesetter is necessary in order to educate the youth about the consequences of their actions including life safety, financial and criminal.

Pathological Firesetter:

This type of Firesetter may have a long history of firesetting resulting of no or insufficient education or intervention. These youth may have psychological or psychiatric problems or have suffered from prolonged physical or sexual abuse. This type of Firesetter has a fascination with fire and receives joy in starting fires. He/she may also believe that fire is the ONE thing they can control. The fires set are often planned. These Firesetters need immediate therapeutic intervention and possibly hospitalization.


It does not matter the age or motive for your child’s firesetting, all of the above are serious behaviors that should not be ignored or brushed off as being “just a part of growing up.” If there is no education or intervention it is more than likely that your child will continue with the firesetting behavior which may have deadly consequences. If you have questions on how to answer your child’s questions about fire or are concerned with your child’s curiosity, contact Firefighter Valerie Marshall. You can also schedule a time to visit the station to have a fire safety lesson taught to your children, but adult supervision is necessary.



Residential Fire Facts & Statistics


According to the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, in 2005 there were 1,602,000 fires reported in the United States. This number is down 3% from 2004. These fires caused 3,675 civilian deaths, 17,925 civilian injuries, 87 firefighter deaths, and $10.7 billion in property damage.

  • 511,000 were structure fires (down 3% from 2004), causing 3,105 civilian deaths, 15,325 civilian injuries, and $9.2 billion in property damage.
  • 290,000 were vehicle fires (down 2% from 2004), causing 520 civilian fire deaths, 1,650 civilian fire injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage. *Note civilian deaths and injuries were those directly related to fire injuries or burns.
  • 801,000 were outside and other fires (up 10% from 2004), causing 50 civilian fire deaths, 950 civilian fire injuries, and $0.2 billion in property damage.

*On average, 100 firefighters die in the line duty every year.


NFPA lists the below as the leading causes of structure fires in homes between 2000 and 2004. NFPA defines a home as dwellings, duplexes, manufactured homes (mobile homes), apartments, row houses, townhouses, and condominiums.




Civilian Deaths

Civilian Injuries

Direct Property Damage
(In Millions)*

Cooking Equipment Fire

120,000 (32%)

220 (7%)

3,660 (25%)

$362 (7%)

Identified Cooking Equipment

21,500 (6%)

210 (7%)

2,140 (15%)

$334 (6%)

Confined Fuel Burner or Boiler Malfunction or Fire

13,300 (4%)

0 (0%)

80 (1%)

$4 (0%)

Confined Chimney or Flue Fire

26,200 (7%)

0 (0%)

40 (0%)

$15 (0%)

Identified Heating Equipment

19,600 (5%)

320 (11%)

1,130 (8%)

$521 (9%)

Heating Equipment Fire

59,000 (16%)

330 (11%)

1,250 (9%)

$540 (10%)

Confined Cooking Fire

98,500 (26%)

10 (0%)

1,520 (11%)

$28 (1%)

Electrical Distribution or Lighting Equipment

13,100 (3%)

140 (5%)

580 (4%)

340 (6%)

Exposure to Other Fire

13,300 (4%)

30 (1%)

80 (1%)

$319 (6%)

Smoking Materials (Cigars, Cigarettes, Pipes)

13,900 (4%)

700 (24%)

1,340 (9%)

$378 (7%)


16,400 (4%)

200 (7%)

1,680 (12%)

$450 (8%)

Intentional (Arson)

19,000 (5%)

310 (11%)

1,070 (7%)

$487 (9%)

Confined or Contained Trash or Rubbish Fire

13,900 (4%)

0 (0%)

50 (0%)

$3 (0%)

Playing with Heat Source (Playing with Matches and Lighters)

8,200 (2%)

170 (6%)

1,020 (7%)

$225 (4%)

Clothing Dryer or Washer

8,900 (2%)

10 (0%)

290 (2%)

$85 (2%)

SOME MORE FACTS (In the United States):
  • A fire department responded to a fire every 20 seconds.
  • One structure fire is reported every 62 seconds.
  • One home structure fire is reported every 83 seconds.
  • One civilian fire injury is reported every 29 minutes.
  • One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 23 minutes.
  • One outside fire was reported every 39 seconds.
  • One vehicle fire was reported every 109 seconds.

* It is important to understand that not every fire or injury from fire is reported to the fire service. If you have a fire in your home, even a small one, it is NECESSARY that you contact the fire department.