This is a guest post by Andy Fissel, the fire chief of the Bellefontaine Fire Department. He hired in with the city as a firefighter-paramedic in 1998, was promoted to Assistant Chief in 2003 and promoted chief in 2014. He started his career as a volunteer EMT in Kenton in 1995, Graduated Kenton Senior high school in 1993 and Lima Technical College with an Associate degree in EMS. He is married to Stacy and has 3 kids.
The philosophy of “thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become a life changing behavior- so have good thoughts” could not be any more applicable than we look consider the subject of fire safety and fire prevention.
Human nature leads many of us to believe that fire is “someone else’s problem” or it “won’t happen to me” and is purely denying the fact that a fire can happen anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, we have the local, state and national statistics to prove that fires happen any place at any time. As soon as one accepts this to be true, that a fire can happen anywhere at any time, including in my home, my workplace and it can directly affect me- that is when the thoughts of fire prevention and being fire safe begins.
And as we all know thoughts become life changing behaviors. So hopefully some of you are thinking maybe or even let’s see what issues we have around the house. The following is a summary, provided by the National Firefighters Protection Association, of the fire problem in the US between 2007 and 2011:
$7,200,000,000 is the average annual property damage from house fires
336,000 average house fires in the US annually
13,210 civilian injuries per year
2,570 civilian deaths caused by fire per year
Cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires (43%) and the leading cause of house fire related injuries.
Misuse of smoking materials account for only 5% of house fires but are the LEADING cause of civilian deaths in a house fires.
Older adults face a higher risk of dying in a fire than younger people.
37% of all house fire deaths did not have a smoke detector
23% of all house fire deaths had a smoke detector but it did not operate
Fires that started in a bedroom or living room account for 11% of all fires but caused 49% of the deaths.
So now that we have established the history of the fire problem, and hopefully we all can acknowledge the facts for what they are. The Fire department recommends the following:
- NEVER leave the kitchen while cooking for any reason.
- Have a means of extinguishment such as a lid or a fire extinguisher close at hand. DO NOT use flour or water on a cooking fire- these can make a small fire spread very quickly.
- Have a fire escape plan and PRACTICE it. Escape drills are not just for children. An adult is more likely to die in a fire than a child.
- Have at least one working smoke detector per floor in your home. The Bellefontaine fire department has a small supply of smoke detectors and batteries that have been donated by various organizations. These are free and available at the fire department during normal business hours.
- Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Have your heating system professionally inspected annually, prior to the start of heating season.
FAQ about the City of Bellefontaine Fire Department specifically:
What can I burn in the city limits?
There is a city ordinance which regulates open burning. This ordinance limits open burning to a fire 3’diameter or less in diameter and less than 2 feet in height. The only material that can be burned is clean, dry wood. You CAN NOT burn trash, painted wood, varnished wood, plywood and green wood. A link to the complete ordinance is on the fire departments web page.
Does the fire department offer CPR training?
Yes. We do charge a nominal fee to cover our cost of this class. Call 599-6168 to schedule.
Does the fire Department offer fire extinguisher training?
Yes. The student/organization requesting the class has to provide the extinguisher. Please call the 599-6168 number to schedule.
Is there a charge for a fire safety inspection?
No. We will inspect your home or business at no charge to the owner or building occupant.
How do I get someone to come to my business/ home to do a fire safety inspection?
Please call the 599-6168 number and ask for a supervisor. We will do our best to schedule a time that works for your schedule, but please understand, we do not currently have of a dedicated fire prevention officer, therefore the inspection will be completed by a firefighter that is also assigned to emergency runs as well, and might not make or leave abruptly, but we will do our best to accommodate all request.
Is it against the law to drive over a fire hose?
Yes, and we will press charges for doing so. Fire hose is under tremendous pressure. Driving over it could injure firefighters, bystanders and damage your vehicle.
What is the Bellefontaine Fire Department’s ISO score?
The Insurance Service Organization (ISO) score is a simplified rating system that reflects how good your fire protection is. There are many components to this score including, water supply, distance to the fire station, staffing and communications are just a few of the items that are assessed in the score determination. A score of 1 is the best, 10 is the worst. There is only 1, class 1, department in the state of Ohio. The majority of departments in Ohio are Class 5 or 6. In the City we are a Class 4. Lake and Harrison Township are a class 9. The lower classification is due to the distance away from a fire hydrant. The ISO class score is one of the factors used to determine the cost of homeowners insurance.
The lower the class score the cheaper the homeowner’s insurance.
Does the fire department charge to put out my fire?
There is no charge for extinguishing a fire.
Why did I see the fire truck at the grocery store?
The Bellefontaine firefighters work a 24 hour shift. They need to purchase their meals (with their own money) as needed. They carry radios with them, so the dispatcher can notify them of any emergency run.
Does the fire department provide smoke detectors to rental properties?
Yes. The Fire Department will distribute smoke detectors and batteries to rental properties, as well as owner-occupied homes. Due to a limited number of detectors, we ask tenants to ask their landlord first. The fire department relies on donations to provide funding for his program, so the funding limits the number we can hand out. If someone would like to donate new smoke detectors (still in the box) or donate to the fire department to purchase detectors and batteries, we would greatly appreciate the donation.
If you have any further questions or for more information please call the fire department at 599-6168.