After tragic Bronx fire that killed 17 people, Nutley Fire Dept. issues alert on space-heater use

Following the horrific Bronx fire that last weekend took the lives of 17 people, a blaze reportedly started by a portable space heater, the Nutley Fire Department is issuing warnings about the use of such devices, with the hope of saving folks from a potential tragedy.

“As temperatures drop, families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes,” the Nutley FD says. “While space heaters and fireplaces are good sources of warmth, they can be very dangerous. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80% of home heating fire deaths annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Families should use extreme caution with all alternative heating devices.”

According to the NFPA, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires, such as placing flammable objects too close to heating equipment.

The NFPA recommends the following safety precautions when using heating equipment:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment such as a portable space heaters, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves or furnaces. The three-foot safety zone includes furniture, drapes, electronics — or, anything that can burn.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have qualified professionals install stationary space-heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed.
  • Never plug a space heater into a power strip or “multi-plug.” They should be plugged directly into an outlet.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not place an electrical cord under a rug. Dispose of older, fraying extension cords.
  • Always use only the type of fuel specified by the manufacturer for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • Make sure a fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into a room. Ashes should be cool before they’re placed in a metal container for disposal. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.