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Fire Safety and Prevention

The Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Fire and Emergency Services keep the community informed about safety and fire prevention, we have a number of safety tips to keep you and your family safe. Our Fire and Emergency Services offer information about:

Three-step safety check at the start of the barbecue season:

  1. Clean your barbecue using a pipe cleaner or wire to make sure the burner ports are free of rust, dirt, spider webs or other debris
  2. Check the hose leading from the tank to the burners and replace it if it's cracked or damaged
  3. Test for leaks by applying a solution of half water and half dish soap to propane cylinder connections and hoses (if bubbles appear, tighten the connection and/or replace the damaged parts and retest)

Barbecue safety tips:

  • Open the hood when igniting your barbecue and before you open the gas valve
  • Keep loose clothing away from a hot barbecue
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance
  • Turn the gas valve off first when finished, then turn off the burner controls, so that no gas is left in the connecting hose
  • Allow the barbecue to cool completely before closing the cover
  • Never leave the barbecue unattended when in use
  • Never barbecue in an enclosed space, such as a garage or tent
  • Never allow grease to build up on the burners or at the base of the barbecue as this could cause a grease fire
  • Never throw water on a grease fire
  • Never position your barbecue close to wooden fences or walls

Barn fires in Ontario have resulted in significant loss of property, including livestock. The emotional and financial impact of a barn fire can be devastating to the owner, the community and the emergency personnel who respond to the incident.

The Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Fire Dept. reminds property owners that most farm buildings are not regulated under the Ontario Fire Code and as such, local fire services have limited responsibilities with respect to inspections and code enforcement on these properties.

Fire safety is the owner/operator’s responsibility. “There are a number of things that property owners can do to help prevent fires and reduce the risk of fire spreading if one starts.

The following proactive steps can easily be taken to help reduce the risk of fire on farm properties:

  • prohibit smoking in and around farm buildings;
  • ensure electrical installations and appliances are kept clean and in good working order: ensure all electrical work is performed by licensed contractors;
  • discontinue the use of extension cords and unsafe wiring;
  • perform welding and cutting operations only in areas that are free of combustible materials;
  • store and handle hazardous products according to manufacturers’ recommendations and applicable regulations: mix fertilizers and chemicals carefully in well-ventilated areas; and
  • provide and maintain a clear unobstructed laneway or yard area to each building and access to water supplies that might be required for firefighting.

For additional details on how to mitigate the risk of fire on farm properties, a free publication entitled Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm is available for download from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs website. This document includes tips on fire prevention and preventative maintenance and provides a checklist to assess fire risks in farm buildings.

Owners and operators of farms and agricultural business properties with further concerns about fire safety should contact the HBM Fire Dept. @ 705-778-3183 to discuss options to identify and reduce fire risks.

Candles are a common cause of home fire. Be safe and use the following safety tips when burning candles in your home:

  • Keep lit candles away and out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters stored out of sight and reach of children
  • Only use candles when an adult is present and awake
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Never use lit candles on or near a decorated tree or other greenery
  • Keep all combustible materials, including decorative materials and wreaths, at least 1 metre away from lit candles
  • Secure candles in a stable, non-flammable candle holder, where they can't be knocked over
  • Buy good quality candles that are smoke-free and drip-free

  • Consider switching to an artificial tree for less risk of a fire
  • Test live, cut trees for freshness by bending a few needles in half (if they snap in two, the tree is dry and is more of a fire risk)
  • Keep cut trees in a sturdy, non-tip stand
  • Make sure your tree is at least 1 metre away from any flame or heat source
  • Position your tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances
  • Don't place your tree where it may block any exits
  • Never decorate a tree with candles
  • Inspect electrical lights and extension cords for wear and tear and replace any cords that are beginning to fray or have broken sockets
  • Only use lights that have been certified by a recognized testing and certification, such as CSA or ULC
  • Don't overload the circuit by stringing too many cords together at a single outlet
  • Unplug all lights, inside and outside, before going to bed or leaving home
  • Safely dispose of your tree when it begins dropping needles (dried-out trees are flammable and should not be left inside the home or garage or placed against the outside of your house)

Always use a licensed electrician for any electrical work. Contact the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) for information about renovation plan requirements and electrical product recalls.

Other electrical safety tips:

  • Only use extension cords as a temporary connection (if you need something more permanent, have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician)
  • Check electrical cords for damage, such as fraying or nicks, and avoid running them under rugs (a damaged cord can expose wires and result in a potential shock or fire hazard)
  • Don't overload a circuit by connecting multiple extension cords to one outlet (if additional outlets or circuits are required, have them installed by a licensed electrician)

Cooking is the number one cause of home fires in Ontario. Here are some tips about kitchen safety to help prevent accidents and fires in your home:

  • Never leave cooking unattended
  • Keep your cooking area clean
  • Don't store combustible objects near the stove
  • Always turn pot handles inward on stove
  • Wear short sleeves or close-fitting sleeves when cooking
  • Don't overheat cooking oil
  • Never cook while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Put a lid on a pot or pan that catches fire, turn off the stove burner and leave the lid on until completely cool
  • Don't carry a burning pan to a sink or outside (movement can cause the fire to ignite or hot grease to spill and cause burns)
  • Keep the door shut and turn off the heat of a microwave or oven that catches fire (if flames don't go out immediately, call the fire department at 9-1-1)
  • Never pour water on a grease fire
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen door

Every year in Ontario, children are injured or die in fires they start themselves.

In the hand of children, matches and lighters can be deadly weapons.

Safety tips:

  • Keep all fire starting materials out of the sight and reach of children
  • Teach young children not to touch matches and to tell an adult of they find them

If you suspect your child is involved in inappropriate fire play, call the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Fire Department at 705-778-3183 for information and assistance.

To reduce fire risk during power outages:

  • Make sure electric stove elements and small appliances are off or unplugged to prevent fires from occurring when the electricity is restored
  • Electrically-connected smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms will not work when the power is out unless you have battery back-ups. Make sure your home has battery-operated smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles or oil lamps. If using candles, place them in a secure holder and cover them with a glass chimney, away from children and pets
  • Propane and charcoal barbecues are for outdoor use only. Do not bring them inside
  • Portable generators should only be used outdoors and carefully located to ensure that exhaust fumes do not enter the home
  • Use only portable space heaters that have been designed for indoor use and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Provide adequate ventilation by opening a window slightly while the heater is in use. Before refueling, turn off the heater, wait for it to cool and take the heater outside to refuel
  • Cordless phones will not work when the power is out, so it is recommended to have at least one phone that does not require electricity to operate

Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in Ontario.

  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside and never allow anyone in your home to smoke in bed
  • Never extinguish cigarettes in plant pots, which often contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite
  • Use large deep ashtrays that can't be knocked over
  • Empty ashtrays into a metal container, not the garbage can, and store the container outside

Improperly installed and maintained wood stoves and fireplaces can lead to dangerous conditions that put you, your family and neighbours at risk.

Safety tips:

  • Inspect and clean your chimney
  • Check stovepipes and connections
  • Check for creosote (a dark brown oil distilled from coal and used as a wood preservative)
  • Check walls for excessive heat
  • Protect walls and floors from heat and sparks
  • Install a rain cap
  • Watch for warning signs such as corrosion or rust on the outer shell or liner of a chimney, as well as loose bricks, crumbling mortar, dark stains and white powder
  • When in doubt, call an expert

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