Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What we learned from our home fire safety inspection

Our home fire safety inspection was overdue: We've lived in our house for 12 years, and never had one done. But having a child who is obsessed with all things firefighter will propel you to get one, as will being ambassadors for Kidde. Also: June is National Safety Month.

Many fire stations do inspections for free, you just have to schedule an appointment (and be flexible, in case the fire inspector has to go actually put out a fire). Chief Joe is pals with Max, and he was more than happy to stop by our home. He brought Lieutenant Ed, Firefighters Shaun and Connor and—surprise!—Max's favorite truck, number 31. The only challenge was tearing Max away from our front porch, where he just wanted to gaze lovingly at the truck.

The inspection started in the unfinished part of our basement, where I had a feeling our clutter wouldn't pass muster. Sure enough, Chief Joe took one look at the plastic storage bins (aka combustibles) surrounding our furnace and said they had to be moved—there should be a three-foot empty radius around furnaces. Max promised to help clean up, although I am dubious.

Next, the Chief suggested that we move the carbon monoxide alarm in the furnace area to the playroom on the other side of our basement; he noted that furnaces can let out a little bit of carbon monoxide when they start up, which can give off false alarms. (Should have read the instructions!)

Chief Joe was glad to see we had a dedicated Kidde kitchen fire extinguisher, although it was in a cabinet and he suggested mounting it so it would truly be within reach in case of a fire. He glanced at our counter and noted it's best to keep wooden blocks of knives away from the stove, and switched ours with a metal canister.

Oopsie! No carbon monoxide (CO) alarm on the first floor. It's recommended to have one CO alarm on every level of your home. Oopsie on our second floor, too: We only had one in the master bedroom. The code, Chief Joe said, is to have a carbon monoxide alarm within 10 feet of all bedroom doorways. We'll be adding two Kidde Worry-Free 10-Year Sealed Lithium Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarms with Digital Display—and we won't have to change a single battery for their lifespan. That said, we'll still need to regularly check them to make sure they're working properly.

In the attic, home to our guest room/place for random stuff/hoarding central, Chief Joe noted the various plugged-in items—the TV, the lamps, a clock—and recommended we unplug appliances rarely in use

Chief Joe and his crew also eyeballed all the old (and disconnected) electric wiring in the house. In the storage part of our attic, he noticed that a box had no cover, and advised us to get a cap for it.

In the end, Chief Joe said our house is overall safe. The key thing for fire safety, he noted, is smoke alarms. But even more key is working smoke alarms. He said his department often discovered smoke alarms without batteries in homes where fire had struck.

When smoke alarms let out chirps, sometimes people just disconnect them and neglect to replace the batteries. A scary stat from the National Fire Protection Association: Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. And one heartening stat: The risk of dying in reported home structure fires is cut in half with working smoke alarms.

Our home fire inspection was a real eye opener for me. As for Max, well, I'm not sure anyone has ever enjoyed a fire inspection as much as he did.

More from my fire safety series:

Protecting your family from a home fire: 9 things you probably never knew

For more information, check out: 

Kidde on Facebook
@KiddeSafety on Twitter
@kiddefiresafety on Instagram

This post is one in a series sponsored by Kidde, for whom I am a compensated ambassador. 


  1. Maybe Max will be doing fire inspections himself someday!

  2. Fire safety is important. I have worked with fire in school.

  3. Fireman Max would not be thrilled to know I slept through the fire alarm at 5 am yesterday in my building (hallway's alarm sounding does not sound in my unit and add in hearing loss) the good news was it was not a fire but once again the roof leaking, I do have a functioning alarm in my unit that I can hear, but the running joke in our building is the fire alarm system is the roof alarm system.


Thanks for sharing!

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