Fireworks Safety

Fireworks

The Fourth of July would not be the same without those breathtaking fireworks. However, tragedy can strike within seconds when fireworks are not properly and safely used. Thousands of people are injured each year in the United States due to fireworks. Consider the following safety tips when using permissible fireworks:

  • Keep all bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
  • During the use of permissible fireworks, minors should be supervised by a parent or legal guardian. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Adults should always supervise activities involving the use of permissible fireworks. Parents often do not realize there are more injuries from sparklers to children under five than from any other type of fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 1,200 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • When using permissible fireworks, place the device on a flat surface, clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings (50 feet).
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light one fireworks device at a time, then back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • Avoid buying or handling fireworks that come packaged in brown paper as this can often be a sign that the fireworks are commercial or display-type fireworks made for professional fireworks shows. These fireworks can pose a serious danger to consumers and the public.
  • Read the directions on fireworks packaging.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Soak used fireworks in a bucket of water to ensure they have been thoroughly extinguished before disposal.

Don’t forget the safety of your pets during firework’s season!

  • Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

For an expanded list of fireworks safety tips, as well as information on fireworks safety-related publications, reports, videos, news, and recalls, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Information Center online.

If you would like to dispose of any illegal or unwanted consumer fireworks in your possession without penalty, please contact the County Fire Marshal at 703-246-4849 , TTY 711.

A list of legal and illegal fireworks for Virginia can be found at: http://www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/safety/fireworks.htm

Joint Training Exercise Highlights Combined Life-Saving Capabilities of Fairfax County Police and FCFRD

On Wednesday, June 22, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) conducted a joint training exercise with Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) Helicopter, Fairfax 1. It was a simulated med-evac of a critical patient. Newer FCPD and FCFRD paramedics, as well as members of Recruit School 154 benefited. Mission critical skills reinforced to ensure a smooth transition of patient care from our paramedics to the FCPD paramedics. Teamwork!

Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 19 – 25 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. With the summer storm season upon us, it is important to be aware of the dangers posed by lightning and the steps to take to avoid getting hurt.

Each second, about 100 bolts of lightning hit the earth’s surface all over the world. Lightning is very dangerous as each single bolt can carry up to one billion volts of electricity! People can be hurt by as little as 42 volts of electricity, so just imagine what one billion can do. 

It is important to know the steps to take to stay safe during a storm where lightning is present. Remember that it is not possible to have thunder without lightning because thunder is a direct result of lightning. So always live by the rule; when thunder roars, go indoors! Follow these simple tips to avoid being hurt by lightning or stuck in its path.

  • Hear thunder? Then lightning is close enough to strike you. When thunder roars, go indoors! Nowhere outside is safe!
  • No building close by to shelter in? Get into an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or thunder to go back outside.
  • Plan your day around the threat of weather to avoid being caught outside when storms hit. Storms typically hit in the late afternoon and evening during the summer but always check the weather for the area you will be in!
  • Avoid contact with water during a thunderstorm. Electric currents from lightning can travel quickly through water.
  • Stay away from concrete floors and walls. Lightning can travel through any metal bars in the concrete. 

Malfunction in a Charging, Lithium-Ion Battery Pack Cause of Frying Pan Townhouse Fire

On Saturday, June 18, at approximately 9:36 a.m., units were dispatched for a reported townhouse fire in the 13000 block of Rose Petal Circle in the Frying Pan area of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on the scene of a three story, middle unit townhouse with fire visible from the third floor. Crews were able to quickly bring the fire under control. Fire was mostly contained to the third floor with minor extension into the attic. Two dogs were rescued from the home. There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries.

No occupants were home at the time of the fire. The fire was discovered by neighbors who observed fire coming from the third-floor window. 9-1-1 was called. Smoke alarms were present and activated, according to witness statements.

Fire Investigators determined the fire was accidental in nature and started in a third-floor bedroom. The cause of the fire was a malfunction involving a charging, lithium-ion battery pack.

Two occupants were displaced because of the fire. Red Cross services were offered and declined. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $93,750.

Working Smoke Alarm Alerts Residents to Kingstowne House Fire

On Friday, June 17, at approximately 5:48 a.m., units were dispatched for a reported house fire in the 7800 block of Kincardine Court in the Kingstowne area of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on the scene of a two-story, split-foyer home with fire in the basement. Crews quickly extinguished the fire. There were no firefighter injuries reported. Both occupants were evaluated by EMS but declined transport to hospital.

Two occupants were home at the time of the fire. A working smoke alarm awakened the occupants. Both self-evacuated prior to the arrival of the fire department. A neighbor noticed smoke coming from the house and called 9-1-1.

Fire Investigators determined the fire was accidental in nature and started in the laundry/utility room on the first floor. The cause of the fire is the improper disposal of rags used for staining wood.

Two occupants were displaced because of the fire. Red Cross services were offered and declined. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $90,000.

Beware Of Child Heatstroke! Look Before You Lock!

It is going to be hot and humid for the next few days. With that in mind, everyone needs to remember a potential danger that can impact young children. Did you know that a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees in ten minutes? Or that the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees?

Needless to say, leaving a child unattended in a vehicle for even a minute is not acceptable. Unfortunately, every year, young children are left alone in a vehicle that quickly heats up with the end result being injury or even death. Some cases involve kids getting into unlocked vehicles, unbeknownst to parents, and quickly succumb to the heat. Make sure your car is locked when you are not in it so kids are not able to gain access.

Below are some important tips from kidsandcars.org. As well, please watch the very short video from noheatstroke.org showing how fast a car can heat up.

  • “Look Before You Lock” ‐ Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.
  • Create a reminder to check the back seat. Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, place the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
  • Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop‐off. If your child does not show up as scheduled; and they have not received a call from the parent, the childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
  • Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
  • Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Use drive‐thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.

If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Delivers Safety Officer Training

By: Battalion Chief Rocco Alvaro
Professional Development Section – FCFRD Training Division

During our most recent  Fire Officer I certification program, the Professional Development Section, delivered the National Fire Academy Incident Safety Officer (ISO) class. This two-day course examines the Safety Officer’s role during emergency responses. Specific to our agency, we also clearly defined the safety role that the company officer assumes during all types of incidents. As part of the development process, several academy staff attended a virtual ISO offering through the National Fire Academy (NFA). This allowed us to evaluate the curriculum, along with the virtual delivery platform that the NFA recently adopted. Our course is based on the NFA curriculum, along with reflecting a broad-based Incident Command System (ICS) perspective on how the company officer can positively influence the safety culture within our department.

Operational Initiative

The ISO course will be delivered to all of our officers, from the newly promoted Lieutenant to the most tenured Battalion Chief. As part of this initiative, our commitment was to enhance the NFA curriculum with Fairfax-centric policies, procedures, and operating doctrine that would establish and enhance the overall safety culture. For our department, we define a safety culture as an environment/atmosphere where the health and safety of our personnel are understood and accepted as a high priority. As such, our officers are now being taught they are part of this environment and are empowered to take ownership through effective leadership. Leadership, that begins with setting expectations and establishing their own personal commitment to a culture of safety.

Safety Mindset

The company officer has the distinct ability to instill the correct perceptions about the commitment that our department has regarding a culture of safety. Our ISO is responsible for monitoring and assessing incident safety hazards or unsafe situations/practices that could lead to a possible injury or even worse. As part of an effective risk vs. benefit analysis (risk management), our company officers will now be equipped to better identify, evaluate, control, and manage the incident scene to ensure safe and efficient work practices. It is this culture of safety that will allow our officers to scan for potential consequences from a grounded risk vs. benefit mindset.

Steps Forward

With the completion of our pilot ISO training, the Professional Development Section will evaluate the student surveys and modify the program to ensure that all operational and administrative components are thoroughly presented within the curriculum. Once this is accomplished our intent is to incorporate the ISO course within all of our officer development and certification courses.

Electrical Event Cause of Annandale House Fire

On Saturday, June 11, at approximately 3:10 a.m., units were dispatched for a reported house fire in the 3900 block of Terrace Drive, in the Annandale section of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on the scene of a one-story, single-family home with fire visible from the rear of the house. Crews immediately went to work to extinguish the fire. Simultaneously, multiple occupants were removed or assisted from the home by FCFRD firefighters. An EMS Task Force was initially requested due to number of occupants. Task Force quickly placed in service as only one occupant sustained a minor injury. The occupant refused treatment. There were no reported firefighter injuries.

Seven occupants were home at the time of the fire. One occupant woke up, discovered the fire, and notified the other occupants. All were able to evacuate with fire department assistance. Smoke alarms had been disabled due to missing batteries.

Fire Investigators determined the fire was accidental in nature and started on the exterior deck. The fire was caused by an electrical event involving outdoor string lights.

Seven occupants were displaced because of the fire. Red Cross assistance was offered and accepted. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $125,000.

Unattended Cooking Cause of Lincolnia Townhouse Fire

On Friday, June 10, at approximately 12:52 p.m., units from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the City of Alexandria Fire Department were dispatched for a reported townhouse fire in the 4500 block of Southland Avenue, in the Lincolnia area of Fairfax County. 

Units arrived on the scene of a two-story, middle of the row townhouse with fire showing from the rear of the home. There was an initial report of one occupant unaccounted for. A second alarm was requested bringing additional resources – to include Arlington County Fire Department. Fire was quickly extinguished and contained to the townhouse of origin. It was also determined early on the one occupant was safe elsewhere. There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries.

No occupants were home at the time of the fire. One occupant was cooking on top of stove when she left home to run an errand. Another occupant arrived home and observed smoke pushing out from underneath the front door. The occupant went inside to grab the dog and called 9-1-1. Smoke alarms were in the home, but it was unknown if they sounded.

Fire Investigators determined the fire was accidental in nature and started in the kitchen. The fire was caused by unattended food cooking on the stove.

Five occupants were displaced because of the fire. Red Cross assistance was offered and accepted. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $77,747.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue would also like to remind all residents about cooking safely. Please remember to not leave cooking food unattended and “Watch What You Heat!

Kitchen Safety Tips

  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Wear short or tight fitting sleeves when cooking. Long loose sleeves are more likely to catch on fire or get caught on pot handles.
  • Keep things that can catch fire such as dish towels, curtains, or paper, at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Do not leave cooking food unattended. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Turn pot handles inward, facing the wall to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills.
  • Pot holders or oven mitts prevent burns when handling hot dishes.
  • Regularly clean your cooking equipment so that there are no cooking materials, food items or grease accumulation.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Do not remove the lid until it is completely cool.
  • If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing. Have the oven serviced before you use it again.