Firefighters see increase in heating device fires

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Before you crank up that furnace or plug in that space heater, Richmond firefighters want you to stop and think: has it been maintained or have you read the instructions?

During this Winter weather firefighters have been seeing an increased numbers of calls for malfunctioning heating devices.

"We've been real busy because the temperatures have gone down so people are cranking up the heat," said David Creasy, Richmond Fire Marshall. He said already his team has received about 20 calls related to heating devices.  Rumbling sounds, black smoke and strange odors have people on high alert this winter.

"We advise people to get their furnaces checked once a year," he said.

If you don't get a visit from a maintenance man prepare for a one from the guys in the big red trucks.

"The burners will get clogged up. The oil filters themselves may get clogged up. So it will cause the furnace to malfunction, it may even back fire," he said.

The small yet mighty space heaters also part of the increasing call volume right now.  When setting up your space heater, you want to make sure the area around it is clear and that you're at least three feet away from furniture or anything else that could burn.

"We want to make sure that they don't plug them in to a long extension cord. If you can, plug them directly into an outlet," Creasy said.

And don't plug more than one space heater into an outlet.  If you take your heat in the form of an electric blanket read the instructions and make sure it's in tact.

"The problem with those heating blankets is, and heating pads are the same way, you can't tell when those wires break down," he said.

The Richmond Fire Department expects this busy season to continue through March or April. So to keep yourself from getting a visit from them, make sure you follow the instructions for your heating device.

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