Posted in BE SAFE, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

10 Tips for Space Heater Safety

Keeping WarmAcross the United States this winter, even in Southern California, record-setting low temperatures have sent people scurrying to discount stores to purchase space heaters. While the units save energy costs and work well to heat small spaces, they also pose a high risk of fire. I guess space heaters make sense for people because they don’t have a built-in coat like dogs. Chihuahua watercolor painting

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) officials say that space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires—figuring in two of every five such fires and accounting for 84% of associated civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage. The peak time for these types of fires is December, January and February.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that the biggest mistake people make relative to the risk of starting fires is to put things too close to heating sources: “Place (flammable materials) at least three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and radiators. Remember that skin burns too. Make sure that people and pets stay at least three feet away.” I guess that includes wagging our tails near space heaters.

Cold moose warming by an electric heaterWhile most built-in heating equipment remains safely out of reach of flammable materials, portable space heaters are easy to forget. Preliminary reports reveal that such was the case last month in Baltimore, Md., where a raging house fire claimed the lives of six children. The impact of the tragedy on loved ones is more difficult because officials suspect a space heater may have caused the blaze.

In the cool of winter, whether you are at home or at work, take these 10 precautions to make sure you remain fire safe in 2017:

  1. Use only portable heaters that have been listed by a testing laboratory (look for the laboratory’s label).
  2. Make sure the space heater you select has an automatic shut-off switch so that it will turn off on its own, even if it is accidentally knocked over or knocked over by an unwieldy tail.
  3. Select a heater that has automatic overheat protection.
  4. Plug portable electric heaters directly into wall outlets instead of potentially overloading an extension cord or power strip.
  5. Since evenings (between 5 – 8 p.m.) are the peak time for home heating fires, turn space heaters off before you leave the room or fall asleep.
  6. Keep space heaters out of the way of foot and paw relaxing on a warm radiator
  1. Use space heaters only on solid, flat surfaces.
  2. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.
  3. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  4. Check the condition of space heaters throughout the season.

For additional winter fire safety information, check out free resources:

Allied Universal (AUS) – Fire/Life Safety Training System

Allied Universal Space Heater Safety Tips

American Red Cross – America’s Biggest Disaster Threat

NFPA – Put a freeze on winter fires

National Safety Council (NSC) – Don’t wait. Check the date.

USFA – Fire is everyone’s fight

owl firemanRemember that fire safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires

Fire Hazards in Office Buildings

Office Fire is a Serious Subject

Occasionally, we have to tackle serious subjects. Today, we’re dealing with one such topic… building fire safety. According to my good pals at the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 112,000 non-residential structure fires in 2008 which resulted in $3.8 billion in property damages.  Those really tall buildings are especially at risk as fires can spread rapidly and higher floors are can be out of reach for even the largest fire trucks.

Building owners should work closely with tenants to discuss fire hazards to prevent loss of property or life. The potential loss of sensitive data or documents should make them a relatively receptive audience. I know that my ears would certainly perk up if someone told me there that my doghouse is at risk.

Reducing the incidence of fires in buildings can be reduced by identifying contributing factors and minimizing risks. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to handle any type of hazard!

Space heaters:

In enclosed spaces near papers, these are famous for starting fires.

  • Space heaters use a lot of electricity and the use of several units can lead to high utility bills
  • Older space heaters that don’t have auto shutoff can start fire if they are tipped over

Office Equipment and Appliances:

  • Make sure that coffee makers, copiers and computers have plenty of clearance for proper air circulation.
  • Papers should not be stacked on or around equipment. (This includes puppy training papers, too.)
  • Restrict the use of hotplates and other portable heating items. (I prefer my food right out of the can. No need for heating.)

Wiring and Power:

  • Older wiring that is mixed with newer wiring can lead to sparking, which can cause fires.
  • Buildings that fail to keep current with electrical code standards are particularly at risk.
  • Overuse of extension cords and power strips can lead to fire. This risk has increased, recently, since people at home and work use so many electronic devices. Overloaded circuits or power cords routed under combustible carpets can also lead to fire.

Combustible materials:

  • Modern offices typically have highly combustible materials such as file folders, wooden partitions, upholstered furniture, carpeted floors, and wooden doors
  • Combustibles can be decreased by choosing metal furniture, installing fire-rated doors, and moving towards paperless record keeping


Don’t forget about cigarettes! Cigarettes and cigars remain among the leading causes of fire. Even in buildings that prohibit smoking inside buildings, some unruly tenants may not comply with regulations. Strict enforcement of no-smoking policies and the provision of safe outside smoking areas can keep recreational smoking from leading to fire. Outside ash containers should be heavy so they will not tip over. And caution should be taken when disposing of ash.

Fire risks can be greatly reduced by establishing and enforcing safety policies for all of your tenants. The RJ Westmore Training System can help you mitigate these and other potential disasters. Visit my friends at RJ and ask about the recently released Version 2.0 of our award-winning training program. Choosing our program cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training!

Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!