Cape Fire Department hosts prevention initiative
The Cape Coral Fire Department wrapped up its annual, holiday fire safety initiative on Thursday.
For the second year in a row, the “Keep the Wreath Green” campaign aimed to remind the public that fire safety is a year-round priority, but particular precautions need to be taken during the holidays. With what is typically a hectic time of the year for most, families can become complacent about fire safety.
“So, it kind of brings fire safety to the front of people’s mind,” Andrea Schuch, spokeswoman for the CCFD, said. “It’s kind of a visual representation of the preventable fires that happen within the month.”
The Keep the Wreath Green campaign, which runs Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, involves hanging a giant wreath out front of Fire Station 4. The wreath is illuminated with green light bulbs. During December, every time a preventable fire takes place in the Cape, one of the green bulbs are replaced with a red.
The CCFD uses Fire Station 4 because it is located in a high traffic area.
“Santa Barbara is a pretty busy street,” she said. “Where the wreath hangs faces the street.”
As of Wednesday, there were five red bulbs on the wreath.
“All the bulbs on it were green,” Schuch said.
The fires this year included two cooking fires, a clothes dryer fire and a Christmas tree fire.
“The other was an electrical fire due to holiday decorations,” she said.
Last year, there were also five red bulbs on the wreath by the end of the campaign.
“We always hope for fewer bulbs, but since there were not more (red) bulbs that is always positive,” Schuch said. “Hopefully, in the next 24 hours, there won’t be another red bulb added.”
On Dec. 5, firefighters responded to a home at 1026 S.E. Sixth St. Upon arrival, they found the stove and microwave on fire. The crew was able to extinguish the flames, and no injuries were reported.
The origin of the fire was determined to be overheated grease cooking on the stovetop.
On Dec. 7, the CCFD responded to a home at 2444 S.W. First St. Upon arrival, the fire was already extinguished. The resident had carried the burning pan outside and received minor burn injuries.
The cause of the fire was determined to be unattended cooking.
“The big key is to never leave stovetop cooking unattended,” Schuch said.
When using grease or oil for sauteing and such, stay in the kitchen.
If you need to put out a grease fire, never use water – smother the fire instead.
“You simply need to cover it was a pan or the lid to the pot and turn off the heat,” she said. “Don’t try to move it, or don’t try to move it to the sink and dump a cup of water on it.”
A fire extinguisher can be used on a grease fire, but it will typically make more of a mess.
On Dec. 7, firefighters also responded to the Dolphin Key Resort, at 1502 Miramar St. Smoke was observed coming from the first floor laundry room. The source was a fire contained inside of a dryer.
Crews extinguished the fire, and the origin was determined to be oily rags drying in the dryer.
“The heat ignited the rags,” Schuch said.
When cleaning greasy or oily items, rinse them out first and lay them out to dry. Wash and dry the items as normal after taking the first step. Also, regularly clean out a dryer’s lint filter and vents.
“Make sure your vents are clean, so lint doesn’t get hot and catch on fire,” she said.
On Dec. 16, the CCFD responded to a home at 2721 S.W. 22nd Ave. and quickly extinguished a fire. The source was an electrical extension cord/surge protector placed under a live Christmas tree.
“The cause was an overloaded outlet, and it sparked,” Schuch said.
On Dec. 25, firefighters responded to a home at 1449 S.E. 13th Terrace. Upon arrival, they saw light smoke on the front porch. A neighbor had put out the fire using a bucket of water from a nearby pond.
The origin was determined to be an outside outlet overloaded with holiday decorations.
“The area around the outlet was burned,” she said.
Schuch advised against piggybacking electrical cords on electrical cords.
“We also like to recommend is you want to make sure your lights are plugged into a surge protector,” she said. “That way if there is an electrical charge, it will trip and turn off the electricity.”
Make sure that it is a surge protector and not a power strip, which does not have the breaker.
“It will also protect your electronic devices, like your computer and TV,” Schuch said.
Do not overload one outlet – distribute holiday lights and electrical cords between several.
Fire officials considered it a successful year for the campaign.
“While we don’t want there to be fires, it provides us with a god teaching tool,” she said.
Schuch noted that updates on the wreath were well received on Facebook.
“It definitely got people’s attention and helped them pay attention more,” she said.
According to Schuch, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the busiest times of the year for cooking fires because of the increase in fire hazards. Working smoke alarms are key.
“You always want your smoke alarms to work,” she said. “Fires spread very very quickly, so you want to give yourself all the time possible to get out of the house.”
For more information on Keep the Wreath Green, visit: www.facebook.com/CapeCoralFD.
Fire Station 4 is at 2007 Santa Barbara Blvd.