IAFF Local 925
Fire Prevention/Safety Tips
Aug 11, 2009

May 03, 2007

Smoke Detectors:  Install smoke detectors on every floor in your home and outside every sleeping area.  Make sure to keep detectors dust free.  Replace the batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.  Test your smoke detectors at least once a month to make sure they work. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the Invisible Killer, is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results from incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal, and gasoline.  Each year many people die from accidental CO poisoning and thousands more are injured.

Anyone who owns residential property regardless of size (i.e., 1 &  2-family homes, multi-family buildings, apartments, condominiums and townhouses, etc.) that contain fossil burning fuel equipment (i.e., oil, gas, wood, coal, etc.) OR contains enclosed parking (i.e., attached or enclosed garage) in Massachusetts, is required to install CO alarms by March 31, 2006.  Owners of residential buildings that notify the local fire department and choose the alternative compliance option and buildings owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (i.e., public housing units) will not be required to install CO alarms until January 1st, 2007.

In most residences, carbon monoxide alarms are required to be located on every level of a home or dwelling unit including habitable portions of basements and attics.  On levels with sleeping areas the alarms must be placed within ten feet of the bedroom doors.  CO alarms do not go inside garages, but in the adjacent living areas. 

Carbon Monoxide mixes evenly in air, so detectors can be mounted at any height, but it is recommended they be mounted between knee and chest height (sleeping height).  Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, drapes or other obstructions.  If you have a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector, mount it on the ceiling where smoke will reach it.  Always consult the manufacturers instructions regarding proper use, care and installation.

Landlords must install CO alarms in each dwelling unit.  Landlords must also inspect, test and maintain the CO alarms at least once a year or at the beginning of any rental period (such as lease renewal).  Batteries are required to be replaced once a year.  Tenants should report any problems with the alarms to the landlord immediately and learn to recognize the difference between the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide alarm.  Anyone who sells their property after March 31, 2006 will be required to have an inspection by the fire department prior to the sale or transfer of their property.


     Effective March 31, 2006, every residential structure and dwelling unit with Fossil Fuel Burning equipment, (fueled by natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal or corn) OR if it has enclosed parking shall be equipped with working and listed Carbon Monoxide Protection.
            UL listed detector.
            Battery unit with low battery indicator.
            AC powered plug in unit with battery back up.
            AC hardwired unit with battery back up.
            Approved Low Voltage or Wireless detectors.
            Approved Combination Smoke/CO detector; they must have a distinguishable alarm tone
            for each and VOICE for the CO activation.
NOTE: Detectors must be photoelectric type if located within 20’ from Kitchen or Bathroom.
            One detector on each level of habitation including habitable basements and attics.
On the sleeping level the detector shall be located in IMMEDIATE VICINITY NOT to exceed 10’ from any bedroom door. Install detectors according to Manufacturer’s instructions.
            This may be more practical for LARGE buildings with limited or NO Fossil fuel burning equipment in each dwelling unit.
What is required under the Alternative Option?
1.       CO protection in all central fossil fuel burning equipment rooms and their adjacent spaces. CO protection is also required in adjacent areas of enclosed parking.
2.       Detection shall be AC powered with Battery backup or low voltage systems. They shall be monitored to a constantly attended location and RETRANSMITTED to the Fire Department.
3.       Any dwelling unit with Fossil fuel burning equipment must meet the above requirements of the previous section. (WHAT IS LISTED PROTECTION?)
4.       If using the Alternative Option, the owner shall provide written notification to the Head of the Fire Department of the intent to install by January 1, 2007. Upon completion of the installation, the owner shall contact the Fire Prevention Office for an inspection no later than January 1, 2007
Landlord Responsibilities
1.       Must at a MINIMUM maintain, test, repair, or replace every CO detector upon RENEWAL of lease OR on an annual basis which ever is more frequent.
2.       Batteries are to be replaced annually.
The Health Department will be reviewing compliance with CO detector requirements upon inspection of rental housing either upon occupant request or in conjunction with “Certificate of Occupancy” inspections. The Health Department will refer reports of potential non-compliance to the Fire Department.

For more info on CO safety, visit the Mass. Department of Fire Services website by clicking here

May 03, 2007

Carbon Monoxide...Poisoning Symptoms

Headaches, Fatigue, Nausea and Other "Flu-like" Symptoms, Loss of Consciousness, Brain Damage, Coma, Death

Normally, oxygen inhaled into your lungs combines with the hemoglobin in your blood to form oxyhemoglobin. The oxygen is transported by the hemoglobin to the body's cells. However, when Carbon Monoxide is inhaled, the CO combines with the hemoglobin in your blood (called carboxyhemoglobin or COHb) instead of oxygen, thus depriving your body of the oxygen it needs to survive. The CO displaces the oxygen on your hemoglobin because the COHb bond is over 200 times stronger than oxygen's bond with your hemoglobin. The strong COHb bond also makes it difficult for your body to eliminate CO buildups from your bloodstream. That is also the reason why Carbon Monoxide can poison you slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations.

As the CO level in your blood increases, the amount of oxygen transported to your body's cells decreases. It is this oxygen deprivation that makes Carbon Monoxide so deadly. Sensitive parts of your body like your nervous system, brain, heart, and lungs suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are easily mistaken for other common illnesses. For that reason, CO poisonings are often misdiagnosed. Symptoms such as headaches, , and fatigue are common to a number of illnesses such as the flu or the common cold. These symptoms can occur with a COHb blood saturation levels of 10-30%. At 30-50% COHb levels, you can experience nausea, severe headaches, dizziness, and increased pulse and respiration. If COHb levels in your blood go over 50% you may suffer from loss of consciousness, the possibility of collapse, convulsions, coma, and finally death.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide...
Poorly maintained furnaces and gas heaters, Fireplaces, Cigarette smoke, Automobile exhaust, Dirty or plugged chimneys, Poorly maintained gas, oil, or kerosene appliances, Gas engines like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers etc., Gas and Charcoal Barbecues, Anywhere combustion takes place

Carbon Monoxide results from the incomplete combustion of carbon based fuels. The term carbon based fuels encompasses all fossil fuels including kerosene, natural gas, gasoline, propane, butane etc. Organic substances such as wood, paper, and cigarettes, are also carbon based fuels. Basically anything you would burn for heat or use to power an engine can release CO. The less efficiently these fuels are burned, the more CO released by the burning process.

That's why regular maintenance of anything in your home that burns carbon based fuels can significantly reduce your chances of being exposed to dangerous amounts of CO.

Running gas motors indoors also poses a serious Carbon Monoxide threat. A car or gas lawnmower that is running in an attached enclosed garage can cause a quick CO buildup in the home. Avoid running these types of devices while indoors, including gas and charcoal barbecues.

Levels of Carbon Monoxide...
Flamability: will explode; LEL 12.5%
Classification: Health: extremely toxic
Carbon Oxide, Flue Gas, Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless gas. To the human senses it is invisible. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion and will appear naturally in any situation where burning has taken place.

Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas which is termed a toxic asphyxiant, meaning it reduces the oxygen transport properties of the blood. It reacts with the hemoglobin in the blood forming carboxyhemoglobin which prevents the hemoglobin from transferring oxygen. Low ppm doses of carbon monoxide can cause headaches and dizziness. If the victim is removed to fresh air no permanent damages will result. High doses can be fatal.

Effects of Various CO Levels

PPM Resulting Conditions and Effects on Humans


Permissible Exposure Level for 8 hours (OSHA)
200 Possible mild frontal headache in 2 to 3 hours.
395 Frontal headache and nausea after 1 to 2 hours. Occipital after 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours.
800 Headache, dizziness, and nausea in 45 minutes. Collapse and possible death in 2 hours
1600 Headache, dizziness, and nausea in 20 minutes. Collapse and death in 1 hour.
3200 Headache and dizziness in 5 to 10 minutes. Unconsciousness and danger of death in 30 minutes.
6395 Headache and dizziness in 1 to 2 minutes. Unconsciousness and danger of death in 10 to 15 minutes.
12,800 Immediate effects-unconsciousness. Danger of death in 1 to 3 minutes.

Source: American Industrial Hygiene Association

Carbon Monoxide Information

It's colorless. It's odorless. And it's deadly. It's carbon monoxide, the leading cause of poisoning deaths in America.

A free publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and First Alert, Carbon Monoxide (Item 561C, free), explains how to protect yourself and your family from this lethal gas. You can order a copy by sending your name and address to:

Consumer Information Center
Dept. 561C
Pueblo, CO 81009

Carbon monoxide results whenever fuel is burned. That means gas appliances, gas and oil furnaces, and wood burning stoves and fireplaces can all produce carbon monoxide buildup in your home, making it extremely important that these and other sources be in good working order with proper ventilation.

Have a professional check your furnace and fuel-burning appliances for leaks and proper venting once a year. Also have chimneys, flues and all other vents inspected for leaks and obstructions. And if you have a gas clothes dryer, don't forget to periodically check the outside exhaust for lint, which can block the vent and force carbon monoxide back inside. For added safety, install at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.

You'll learn more with Carbon Monoxide (Item 561C, free) which includes a checklist for identifying carbon monoxide sources in the home. When you write, you'll also receive a free copy of the Consumer Information Catalog. The Consumer Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration revises and publishes the Catalog quarterly, so you know it's up-to-date. Its pages list more than 200 free and low-cost federal publications on a variety of subjects.

What to do IF your CO Detector Activates...

Call the Fire Department!
Dial 9-1-1

May 03, 2007

Fire Extinguishers:  Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher.  Fire extinguishers should be placed in the bedroom, kitchen, garage and workshop.  Purchase an "ABC" type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires.  Take the time to educate yourself and your older children on how to operate an extinguisher before you actually need to use it in an emergency!  Keep fire extinguishers away from small children.  If there is a large fire, get out of the house IMMEDIATELY and call 911 from another location...seconds can mean lives...the quicker you can alert the Fire Department, the faster they can do their job.

Prepare an Escape Plan:  Post Emergency Numbers close to each phone in your home.  Make sure your children know how to dial 911 if there is an emergency.  Create a floor plan of your home.  There should be a way to get out of each bedroom without opening the door.  Conduct fire drills with your family regularly.  Pick a meeting place a safe distance from your house where your family can gather for a head count.  Make sure hallways, stairways and all escape routes are free of obstructions and combustible materials. 

In Case of Fire:  Leave your house immediately.  Do not stop to collect any items in your house to take with you.  Alert other occupants that there is a fire.  Before you open a door, test it for heat by placing your hand on it first.  If the door is warm or hot do not open it because there may be fire on the other side.  Keep the door closed and find another way to exit your house.  If there is smoke in the rooms you are trying to exit, stay as low to the ground as possible, even if that mean that you have to crawl on your stomach.  Call 911 from another location and NEVER GO BACK INSIDE A BURNING BUILDING!!

Other Hazards: Keep all gas grills and barbeque grills at least 10 feet away from your house when cooking on them.  Do not operate these grills on your porch or deck.  Propane tanks should not be stored against or inside your house or garage, they should be left outside in an open area.  Do not leave candles, fireplaces, space heaters or stoves unattended while they are lit or in operation.  Keep combustible materials away from them at all times.  Keep the lint screen for your dryer clean and the dryer vent should vent outside your home and no where else. Do not use a frayed or worn extention cord and do not run the extention cord under a rug.  Don't overload electrical outlets.  Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children and do not leave children unattended in the presence of fire in any form.  Flammable liquids should only be stored in approved safety containers and they should not be kept in your house or garage.  The best way to avoid smoking hazards is to stop smoking.  Never smoke in bed.  Use a large, deep ashtray for cigarette butts and do not let them pile up in the ashtray.  Before you dispose of a cigarette, run water on the cigarette to make sure that it is properly extinguished.

May 03, 2007

May 19, 2007



               "Smoke Showing" is a short film that visually demonstrates the dangers and challenges faced by firefighters during a structural fire. This film will serve to educate recruit firefighters, elected officials and the public in fire operations. "Smoke Showing" demonstrates the need for an aggressive interior attack coupled with adequate resources in order to save lives and reduce property loss. The film is opened by the cast of "Rescue Me." It is dedicated to the proud service of Tom F. Brennan.


Special Thanks to Fire Engineering.Com for This Free Educational Video

Click the File Below to Download

Download: 20070412_showing_smoke.wmv

Page Last Updated: Aug 11, 2009 (18:53:21)
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