Temperatures are dropping, which means fire safety is more important than ever as people turn their gas heaters on, build fires and break out space heaters.
Ardmore Fire Chief Cary Williamson said this time of year, the fire department has to tackle more calls, whether there’s an actual fire or just a weird smell that has a homeowner concerned.
“When you turn your heater on for the first time it’ll have a smell,” Williamson said. “We run a lot of calls on those. People will say ‘I’ve got a smell and I don’t know what it is,’ but a lot of the time it’s just dust burning off the heat exchanger.”
Williamson said the false alarms are common, but the concern is understandable, and people should feel free to call the fire department whenever anything seems out of place.
The next step is to keep at least one carbon monoxide monitor on every floor of a home, and make sure they’re in working order.
“With electric, you don’t need to worry about it, but anytime you have a carbon monoxide monitor and it goes into alarm, you definitely need to evacuate the house and then call the fire department,” Williamson said.
  Monitor placement is also important. Keeping a carbon monoxide monitor too close to a gas
appliance can cause carbon monoxide to build up slowly over time and eventually trigger a false alarm.
“Over time, just from buildup, because those aren’t made to operate in that atmosphere,” Williamson said.
City ordinances don’t allow any outdoor fires that aren’t for the purpose of preparing food in an approved container, like a grill, but Williamson said that doesn’t always stop people.
“We usually don’t even find out about them unless the neighbors call because they smell smoke,” Williamson said. “For the most part they’re not hurting anything, but there are times when that’s not a good situation. By ordinance, they’re not allowed to be there.”
Williamson said the city is in the process of rewriting the ordinance.    
Electric space heaters pose their own dangers. People can sometimes leave blankets or clothing too close to their heaters, and using an extension cord can be a dangerous mistake.  
“They draw so much juice that they can actually heat up the cord and cause all sorts of problems,” Williamson said. “Also, we recommend giving space heaters at least 36 inches of space between the heater and any combustible material.”