Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department shares fire safety tips

Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

The Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department reached out to the public recently in a mailing requesting financial support and received according to Chief Lon Winburn, "a great response from the community." That mailing also held life-saving tips for the public about fire safety.

The mailing offered many safety tips and strategies that the FVFD feels is very important for the community to be educated on to help raise public awareness and save lives.

When trying to assess your home for fire safety, the FVFD recommends that you install smoke alarms on every level of your home and near all sleeping areas. They also suggest you keep combustible materials at least three feet away from heat sources. "Many people may not recognize combustible materials and so we have listed a few to help guide the community." Combustible materials may include curtains, bedding, furniture, towels, clothing, bags and boxes, which all can catch fire very quickly.

As the winter months are coming upon Humboldt County, it is time to have wood stoves and chimneys inspected. This process is recommended to be done annually by the FVFD, and there are many local businesses to get them winter-ready.

"When you burn wood it leaves flammable creosote deposits in the firebox, flue, and chimney, and so these buildups should be removed professionally to minimize the risk of fire," states the FVFD.

As the economy calls for more residents to be working, many homes are left empty during the day, and with winter creeping up, homes are being warmed during the day for residents' return. This is often done by leaving a fire going or a space heater running. This is a fire hazard and, just like candles, they should be extinguished prior to leaving the residence.

Do you use extension cords in your home? FVFD shares, "It is high risk to replace permanent wiring with extension cords and it should never be done." Power strips are an acceptable product to use within the guidelines of the manufacturer.

As adults your first priority with fire safety should be the children which we are in contact. "Matches and lighters should always be kept away from children. More importantly, educate your children on the dangers of fire, because children will play with matches and lighters if they are available," states FVFD.

The website shares, "Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio."

The FVFD encourages residents to keep "a defensible space around your home and never leave a fire unattended." Even a controlled fire can quickly turn into an uncontrolled fire. This can happen even when you believe you are doing everything right.

If you are ever in a fire emergency, the FVFD encourages you to call "911 first and never attempt to extinguish a large fire. Stay low to the ground and leave immediately while closing all the doors behind you."

As a household, and especially if you have children, a fire safety exit plan should be put into place. Discuss with your children where at least two exits are located.

According to, each year "more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually."

You can download a document to create your own family emergency plan at under the 'create a plan' tab.

For more information contact the FVFD at 725-5021.

photo caption:

Photo by Heather-Nyberg Schlotzhauer/Beacon

The 2012 Fire Academy gave attention to proper hose-handling and nozzle spray to best attack fires, ensuring trained assistance in future fires.