Chimney Fires: A Serious Danger Year-Round

You may think of your chimney as an architectural adornment that provides warmth on cold winter days, but in reality, it’s a tunnel to remove dangerous flue gasses from your home. These fumes cause condensation inside the chimney, which in turn deposits creosote — a highly flammable chemical that frequently causes chimney fires.

As this blog has previously noted, the threat of chimney blazes in New England, and beyond, is real. Chimney fires can have many consequences, including tragic ones. In Massachusetts alone, in 2018, there were 556 fires involving chimneys, fireplaces and wood stoves, according to These led to one death and $3 million in property losses.

Additionally, the very nature of chimney fires makes them extremely dangerous, according to an informative website. The fires aren’t dramatic: they survive on limited air and fuel, meaning they burn slowly — and are often undetected until an inspection. Without the owner realizing what’s happening, these fires can melt a chimney, or make it crack and collapse. Then the fire moves into the house — and potentially, into the wood frame.

Lack of Diligence Makes Chimneys Risky

Chimney fires can strike anywhere. In February, a chimney fire in Plympton, Massachusetts, ignited the roof of a house, according to the local press. It took firefighters 10 minutes to control the blaze, and luckily, there were no injuries. “This incident could have been a lot worse and is a good reminder to make sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned yearly,” the Plympton Fire Department proclaimed on Facebook.

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Keep Your Home Safe from Carbon Monoxide

Winter is here, and we’ve already weathered our first big snowstorm of the season. Now, as temperatures keep dropping and the weather becomes more inclement, we New Englanders will be spending more and more time indoors.

This also means we need to be doubly on the alert about carbon monoxide — the “silent killer.” As this blog has noted previously, carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas. It leaks from common heating and lighting sources, like faulty furnaces, portable generators, stoves, lanterns and gas ranges.

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Keep Thanksgiving Safe: Follow These Tips

With Halloween behind us, the holiday season has officially begun. It’s now time to think about home and travel safety in the midst of this season’s hustle and bustle.

Getting together with family and friends can be hectic, and the potential for accidents skyrockets with children running around, large dinners prepared and the fireplace roaring. As this blog has previously noted, Thanksgiving Day is the most common day for kitchen fires. Cooking accidents are the leading cause (77 percent) of Thanksgiving house fires in the United States.

That’s not even to mention the risks of traveling. Between heavy traffic, weather and other factors, Thanksgiving travel demands special precautions, as this safety checklist from a law office notes. Unfortunately, alcohol-related accidents caused 800 deaths between 2012 and 2016 during Thanksgiving alone.

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Daylight Savings: Don’t Forget to Check the Fire Alarms

Rolling our clocks back for the end of daylight saving time offers a reminder to check our smoke detectors and batteries. Fresh batteries and detectors will help protect our loved ones and property.

As an interesting Good Housekeeping article notes, the twice-yearly synchronization of our computers is, of course, automatic. Resetting our clocks and other devices requires manual intervention — so it’s a great policy to simultaneously and routinely check our smoke alarms’ power sources, too.

The Risk of Fire

Why should you add battery checkup to your list of things to do? Well, according to a survey cited in the article, only 57 percent of those who owned fire alarms had followed best practices and checked their alarms in the six months prior to being polled.

The U.S. Consumer Protection Agency echoes the findings of the magazine article, noting that in the United States, annually, there are:

  • About 330,000 home fires
  • Roughly 2,200 deaths
  • Some 11,000 emergency-room related injuries

Maintaining Smoke Alarms

Proper installation and maintenance of smoke alarms will reduce risk. When adding the alarm test to your daylight-saving time to-do list, there are some best practices to observe that will reduce risks and make the process more streamlined.

According to Good Housekeeping:

  • When removing the cover, lift it or twist it off — although sometimes the entire alarm detaches from the base
  • Replace battery with a new one (typically they are 9-volt)
  • Snap cover or battery back into place
  • Press test button to ensure it’s operational — it should emit a beep or chirp

While you are checking the smoke detector, you should also examine the manufacturer’s stamp indicating the year the device was made. Detectors lose their efficacy over time, and they need to be replaced every 10 years or less to remain up to code.

To go even further, install both smoke and carbon monoxide detection solutions. You can also procure monitoring services from a local provider who can immediately detect the presence of smoke or dangerous gasses and alert you and first responders.

But above all, make daylight saving time an occasion to consider safety as well as punctuality.

Next Steps

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Fighting Fire with Fire Alarms

The passage of Fire Prevention Week offers an opportunity to re-evaluate our fire protection. Simply being aware of the risk is inadequate – alarm systems and procedures need to be in place for true fire safety.

As a FEMA press release about October being National Fire Protection Month notes, “most Americans underestimate their risk for fire, and many either lack emergency response plans – or fail to practice them with fire drills.”

FEMA also notes how in a typical house fire, there may be only one or two minutes after an alarm sounds to escape the premises. A small flame can become a major blaze in just 30 seconds. There isn’t a lot of room for delay once fire breaks out.

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Protect Your Business During Fire Prevention Month

It’s National Fire Prevention Month through October — and a great time to evaluate your fire alarm system. These can be a key part of a holistic approach to protect your business, employees and customers.

Fire, unfortunately, remains a major risk to business owners here in New England and beyond. When a fire strikes, it may completely ruin your office, factory or retail shop. And if the fire doesn’t completely destroy your workplace, it can severely damage on-site gear and property. That can leave you unable to function properly for weeks or months — adding lost business to the price tag of the fire itself.

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Fire Detection/Prevention: Getting the Alarm and Getting it Right

October 6 is Fire Prevention Week in North America, and it’s an appropriate occasion to think about how we can ensure our loved ones, homes, and property can be better protected. At American Alarm, we take the danger of fire especially seriously: A deadly fire’s aftermath was the reason why the company was launched.

Fire remains a very real threat in New England, and beyond. An alarm (preferably with a monitoring service) is a proven way of proactively detecting the presence of smoke before the fire is out of hand. For instance, this past September, an empty Waterford, Connecticut house was engulfed in flames before neighbors could report the blaze and the fire department could locate it.

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School Vandalism is Costly: Security Systems Can Help

School is back in session, which means school vandalism unfortunately tends to rise accordingly. Surveillance and security solutions can help school administrators to deter or resolve such incidents.

School-related vandalism — a type of crime involving any damage or defacement of school property — is a real problem in Massachusetts and beyond. According to the Vandalism at School website, the annual price tag to remedy this kind of crime runs at around $8 billion nationally.

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The Biggest Threats to Your Home, by the Numbers 

Knowledge is power when it comes to home and property safety here in New England. We recently published a report based on a five-year study of our archived verified-alarm data, and some interesting patterns emerged. Read more

How to Prevent Vandalism and Theft During Commercial Construction

The construction industry is booming and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects it will be one of the fastest growing industries by 2020. All that construction is great for the economy. It will create new residential and commercial properties and provide more construction jobs to the labor force. One disadvantage will be the increase in vandalism and theft on sites. Read more