With more people staying at home, fire prevention needs to be top of mind
Ontario’s Fire Marshal is urging all Ontarians to follow the recommendations of medical and health professionals on how to use and clean personal protective equipment (PPE) and stresses that microwave ovens should never be used to sterilize a face mask.
“Heating a face mask in a microwave, in an effort to decontaminate it, is a potential fire risk and should never be done,” said Jon Pegg, Ontario Fire Marshal, in response to suggestions that microwaves can be used to sterilize masks for re-use.
Microwave ovens are not designed to heat cloth materials, so there is a risk of the mask overheating and catching fire. Many disposable masks also have a metal nose wire or staples holding the straps which can cause sparks or a fire if heated in a microwave.
The Fire Marshal is reminding everyone that fire safety is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many families are staying at home and doing more cooking. Ontarians need to be especially vigilant about fire prevention as fire and smoke can travel so quickly that firefighters may not be able to rescue someone in time.
“There have been 51 fire fatalities between Jan. 1 and May 4, a 65 % increase over the same time period last year, with 17 Ontarians dying in fires this past March alone,” noted Pegg.
To reduce potential fire risks in your home:
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires
- Keep a close eye on anyone drinking alcohol while attempting to cook or smoke
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and garage and thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand
- Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets and running electrical cords under rugs or furniture which can damage the cords and cause a fire
- Ensure items that can burn are at least one metre away from space heaters
- Test your alarms by pressing the test button – only working smoke alarms give you the early warning required to safely escape a fire in your home
- Practice your home fire escape plan and make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible
- Keep all exits clear of obstructions that might hinder a safe escape.
For more information on fire safety, visit www.ontario.ca/firemarshal
During the weekend of November 14/15, Mattawa Fire Department members took advantage of an SCBA Confidence Maze Trailer to further hone their skills in confined spaces and under duress.
Members practiced navigating virtually blind in heavy smoke and no light conditions, through an obstacle filled maze, featuring small openings, tunnels, rope entanglements, and hatches.
Crews also practiced victim rescue, entering as a team and worked on recovering entangled firefighters from a mess of coaxial cables.
Members also worked on air conservation, low air bailouts and calming techniques for high stress situations.
This unit was in operation for 21hrs over the course of the weekend, helping develop our firefighters’ confidence while working in hazardous environments.
The Mattawa Fire Department would like to thank TransCanada Safety and Draeger for making this equipment available for this training exercise.
Crews attended the former nursing home to complete a full response scenario on Nov 18 2020.
In this scenario, crews were dispatched to reports of an automatic fire alarm activation. Upon arrival crews were met with visible signs of smoke and fire emanating from ‘C’ wing. Crews quickly made an aggressive interior attack on side bravo into the ‘C’ wing hallway and extinguished the fire. Search crews then entered the building to clear it of any occupants.
In the meantime, it was discovered that there was also a hidden generator fire in a detached structure. Crews forced entry into the outbuilding and made a quick attack on the fire as well as a simultaneous victim rescue.
Crews then laddered the structure to extinguish a small roof fire.
Further searches of the surrounding outbuildings garnished positive results, when a homeless mother and infant were found living in a storage container on the site. They were unable to leave the container due to the heavy smoke blocking their exit.
Upon completing fire attack and searches, crews transitioned to ventilation and overhaul. During this phase, one member suffered a cardiac event while on the interior, a mayday was called and interior crews rapidly extracted the member while RIT was making entry. The firefighter was subsequently worked on by fellow firefighters and arriving EMS personnel and was successfully resuscitated.
Training scenarios like this enable our crews to test their skills, team work, and knowledge. The ability for our department to conduct these operations cannot be understated. Each successive scenario builds our young crew and helps keep us on the forefront of incident mitigation. The Mattawa Fire Department wishes to thank the Town of Mattawa for the generous use of this facility.
Crews attended the former nursing home to complete a full response scenario on Nov 11 2020.
In this scenario, crews were dispatched to reports of a Vehicle vs. Structure with fire and entrapment. Crews worked to contain the fire, remove victims under collapsed debris and extricated a patient in the vehicle.
Crews attended the former nursing home to complete a full response scenario on Nov 04 2020.
In this scenario, crews were dispatched to a working air conditioner unit fire on the roof. Throughout the scenario the evolution of the fire and incident changed with fire crew actions; this led to crews extinguishing a natural gas fed fire on the A/C unit. Crews were able to contain the fire to a localized area and complete searches to verify the building empty. Crews then completed overhaul and cleared the scene.
Opportunities like these to run simulated calls within an actual building allow our members to gain experience and knowledge and hone their skills. Teaching points, lessons learned, and crew teamwork help build our department as a whole.