Fire Prevention/Safety

New information and regulations on recreational fire

There has been some updates to the Allegheny County Open Burn Regulations that has taken place as of January 1, 2015

With the new regulations they have changed it to 15 feet away. We still recommend that you keep the fire at least 25 feet away from the nearest neighbors dwelling or inhabited area to be on the safe side. And we also recommend that you have a means of immediate extinguishment close at hand. 

They have still kept the size of the fires the same limiting the size of wood to no more the 3 feet wide, 3 feet long, and 2 feet high. You are still only able to burn clean wood, propane or natural gas. You are still NOT able to burn construction materials such as dry wall or PVC pipe.

Smoke Alarms


Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries

  • Smoke alarms save lives. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Here's what you need to know!

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.

  • Test your smoke alarms every month.

  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.

  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years

Smoke alarms by the numbers

  • In 2007-2011, smoke alarms sounded in half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.

  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

  • No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (37%) of the home fire deaths.


Winter Fire Safety Heating Your Home Safely


Follow these heating tips to help prevent winter fires and to stay safe this winter season:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from all heating sources including fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, space heaters or candles
  • Never use an oven to heat your home
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional
U.S Home Heating Equipment Fires Facts

In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 53,600 home structure fires that involved heating equipment.

These fires caused

  • 400 civilian fire deaths
  • 1,520 civilian fire injuries
  • $893 million in direct property damage
  • Heating equipment fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires in 2011 (second behind cooking) and 16% of home fire deaths.
  • In 2007-2011, the leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote form solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (53%) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
  • In 2007-2011, most home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters.
  • Half (50%) of all home fires occurred in December, January and February in 2007-2011.
  • Home heating firs peak during 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and associated deaths peak during 12:00 to 2:00 a.m.
  • Creosote fires are estimated to involve four civilian deaths, 15 civilian injuries and $34 million in direct property damage per year.

Out Door Fires



IMPORTANT!  Outdoor fires not complying with these requirements shall be ordered extinguished by the Fire Official, and can result in fines and the issuance of a citation.


Chimineas, Portable Outdoor,Fireplaces, and Portable Outdoor Fire Pitts
Allowed provided all of the following conditions are met:


  1. The device is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. The device’s designed fuel loading is not exceeded.

  3. Rubbish or yard waste is not being burned.

  4. The fire is constantly attended until it is completely extinguished.

  5. Some means of immediate extinguishment is kept close at hand.  Acceptable means of extinguishment include a garden hose, a fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating, or dirt or sand with some means of application.

  6. For non-residential occupancies and apartment buildings having three or more units, the device must be at least 15 feet away from structures and combustible materials.  * Note: Condition # 6 does not apply to single family homes or duplexes.


Recreational Fires (i.e. campfires)
 Allowed provided all of the following conditions are met:


  1. The fuel area must be 3 feet or less in diameter, and 2 feet or less in height (i.e. no larger than an ordinary campfire).

  2. Rubbish or yard waste is not being burned.

  3. The fire is at least 25 feet away from structures and combustible materials.

  4. Conditions are not conducive to fire spread (such as extremely dry weather or high winds).

  5. The fire is constantly attended until it is completely extinguished.

  6. Some means of immediate extinguishment is kept close at hand.  Acceptable means of extinguishment include a garden hose, a fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating, or dirt or sand with some means of application.


Burn Barrels
Allowed provided all of the following conditions are met:


  1. Rubbish or yard waste is not being burned.  * Note: The burning of wood scraps in a steel drum or barrel at a construction site is allowed for warmth, but not allowed if for the sole purpose of construction debris disposal.

  2. The fire is at least 25 feet away from structures and combustible materials.

  3. Conditions are not conducive to fire spread (such as extremely dry weather or high winds).

  4. The fire is constantly attended until it is completely extinguished.

  5. Some means of immediate extinguishment is kept close at hand.  Acceptable means of extinguishment include a garden hose, a fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating, or dirt or sand with some means of application.


Bonfires and Open Burning


Outdoor fires having a fuel area greater than 3 feet in diameter or 2 feet in height are not allowed.




Grilling Safety Tips

Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills
Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.


Grilling facts from NFPA

Be sure to use safe grilling practices as the peak months for grilling fires approach – June and July. Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires.

Facts & figures

  •  In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
  • In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.





















Do you know when to stop for a school bus?

Learn and obey the school bus laws. Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions: 

Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their vehicles and withdrawn before they can start driving again.

Roadway with a median separation:

When a school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.

Roadway with or without a center turning lane:

When a school bus stops for passengers, where there is no physical barrier dividing the highway, all traffic form BOTH directions must stop.

Example in the Chartiers Valley School District:

Washington Ave (Near GetGo Hope St at Washington Ave)

No physical barrier separates the roadway so all traffic must stop!

Again no physical barriers,traffic in all directions must stop!

Example in the Chartiers Valley School District:

Carothers Ave. (Carothers Ave at Finley Ave and Carothers at Magazine St)

No physical barriers, traffic in all directions must stop!

Example in the Chartiers Valley School District:

Washington Pike, in Collier Twp.


Remember, if there is not a physical barrier between you and the stopping bus, YOU MUST STOP!!

If a school bus is stopped at an intersection, traffic in ALL directions must STOP.

Passing a stopped school bus when it's red lights are activated is an extremely dangerous situation and is taken very seriously by the judicial system, so know the laws, and the penalties for violating those laws.


Our children's safety is in your hands

(Click picture for more info)

(Source: and


Driving Safety Tips For Rail-Road and Train Tracks

  • Trains and cars don't mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
  • The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's 18 football fields!
  • Never drive around lowered gates — it's illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
  • When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.             (Source:
Learn more about rail-road and train tracks safety over at Operation Lifesaver website.
Click on the picture below to go to there website


Imagine from Operation Lifesaver on Vimeo.

Imagine, for a moment, that your car is a can of soda. Why? You’ll find out when you watch rail safety nonprofit Operation Lifesaver's animated video for new drivers. For more information, visit our driving safety tips page at



What should you do when an emergency vehicle is approaching?

Pennsylvania state law requires drivers to yield to emergency vehicles displaying visual and/or audible warning devices. These laws exist for your safety and the safety of those on the emergency vehicle. PLEASE obey Pennsylvania traffic laws. Unless the movement of the emergency vehicle is obviously into the right shoulder or traffic lane, please move to the RIGHT and stop or SIGNIFICANTLY slow your vehicle. Emergency vehicles may make unexpected turns or stops to access an emergency scene or a fire hydrant. The operators of emergency vehicles are often being bombarded with instructions that may change their original route of travel. Please help us protect each other by obeying the law.

If you are stuck in traffic your best course of action may be to simply stay put until the emergency vehicle passes. Our fire apparatus are equipped to override traffic signals. This provides you with the means to safely move across an intersection and out of the path of the apparatus. Please give other drivers space to move out of the travel lane being used by the emergency vehicle.

If you are on Washington Ave or a similar roadway where a center turning lane exists, please DO NOT move into the center lane. We will use the center lane to move past you while you simply stay put. Fire apparatus is large, heavy, and does not stop on a dime.



Apartment And Condominium Fire Safety

Responsibility for the fire safety of your building lies with each and every resident. That's why it is so important that you plan together to keep your building as fire safe as possible and learn the right thing to do should fire break out. The first place to start is to learn the facts.

Smoking is the #1 cause of all fatal apartment fires. And, nearly a third of them are caused by someone smoking in bed.
Most residential fires occur at night when condos and apartments are most heavily populated.

Be Prepared! Plan Ahead for Everyone's Safety!

Meet with your landlord or building manager to devise fire safety plans for your building. As part of your group planning, explore your building. Know every possible exit, including exits from laundry, storage, and recreation rooms. If hallways become smoky in a fire, your memory can help you find a way out. Remember never to use elevators in a fire. Keep exit and stairwell doors closed at all times, but not locked. And, keep exits clear of debris and storage.

Focus on these four key elements in your fire safety plan:prevention, detection, escape planning and practice, and fire department notification.


An ounce of prevention can save your life. Prevention is your best insurance against fire. Take these simple fire safety precautions in your own unit to prevent fire from starting.

Be careful with smoking materials. Keep large ashtrays for smokers and never smoke in bed!
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet up high out of the reach of children.
Check regularly for electrical hazards, such as worn electrical cords, overloaded extension cords and outlets, and broken appliances.
Don't store flammable liquids in your home, car, or anywhere else inside your building.
Don't use balconies, porches, fire escapes or furnace rooms for storage. Fires starting in these areas can burn undetected.


Make sure the fire detection system works! If fire strikes, smoke detectors and fire alarms alert you to a fire right away, so you can get out of the building safely. Be sure your building has a working fire alarm system and learn to recognize the sound of the alarm. Know where the alarms are located in your building and how to operate them in an emergency.

Install smoke detectors on every floor of your own unit. Be sure to place detectors on the ceiling near bedroom areas. This way, if a fire starts while you’re asleep, detectors will wake you before it's too late.

If you notice that smoke detectors in your own unit or in public hallways are beeping, be sure to have their batteries changed or electrical systems checked. Replace dead batteries immediately.

Escape Planning and Practice:

In a fire, there is no time to stop and think. You need to know in advance the two quickest safe ways out of your unit and your building. That is why it is critical that you make and practice escape plans.

Draw up floor plans for each floor with exits clearly marked. Ask your building manager to post the floor plans in high-traffic areas, such as near elevators, exit doors, and foyers. Make a point to review the floor plans now - because in a fire, smoky conditions and urgency can make this impossible.

Once you've mapped out evacuation procedures, decide on a meeting place outdoors. Go there as soon as you exit the building and stay there. This way, you can keep track of who is out and who may be trapped inside. If you think someone is trapped, tell the fire department - do not go back into the building yourself.

PRACTICE! Rehearse your escape plans as a group. Appoint a floor captain and hold a fire drill to make sure that everyone knows the rights thing to do when the alarm sounds.

[Call 9-1-1!]

Fire Department Notification:

Call 9-1-1! As a general rule, get out of the building, and then call the fire department from a safe place. When you call, be ready to provide your locations and any other information about the fire.

What to Do If Fire Strikes:

  • Don't rush out of your apartment into the hallway. First, feel the door. If it is hot, use another way out. If the door is cool, leave by the nearest exit.
  • If an announcement can be heard over your building's public address system, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • Never use elevators in a fire! Use the stairs. Close all doors behind you to slow fire spread.
  • If your planned escape route becomes smoky, get down on your hands and knees and crawl. Smoke rises, so the cleanest air is near the floor.
  • Never go back into the building. Go directly to your planned meeting place and stay there. If you think someone is trapped inside, notify the fire department.
  • If you can't escape your apartment, stuff wet towel, sheets, or clothes around the door and vents to keep smoke out.
  • Call the fire department and tell them where you are. If no smoke is coming into the room you are in, open a window slightly both at the top and the bottom. Stay low and wave a bright cloth, towel, or sheet out the window to signal your location.

Remember, by accepting responsibility to keep your apartment or condo fire safe, you are not only protecting yourself, but your neighbors as well. A little bit of planning and awareness can make the difference between safety and disaster… for everyone! (Source:


10 Things to Know About Flood Safety

Flooding can occur as streams and rivers overflow their banks, when dams or levees break, with run-off from deep snow cover, or any time there is rainfall with significant duration and intensity.

 Keep these facts in mind to stay alive and dry.

1. Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly. They can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, or when a dam or levee fails and even a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam. Be cautious during storm seasons, or any time that flooding is common in your area.

 2. You may not have warning that a flash flood is approaching.

3. Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.

 4. Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded-out road ahead, turn around. Find another route to your destination.

5. If there is no other route, get to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.

6. Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don't try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water. Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath.

7. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

8. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling.

9. One foot of water will float almost many vehicles.

10. Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles — including SUVs and pick-ups.



Did You Know?

 Each year, approximately 3,000 people in the U.S.A.. die from fires in the home. Many of these fires occur at night while people who are sleeping unknowingly inhale toxic gases and smoke. More than half of the fires occur in houses without a smoke alarm. Fires that result in death in houses with smoke detectors are almost always due to not enough detectors or dead smoke alarm batteries. The risk of death from residential fires is cut significantly when you know how to change the batteries in your smoke detector. 

Smoke detectors that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced. Some people think that their smoke alarm sits idle until there is smoke present. Actually, it is working every minute, constantly monitoring the air 24 hours a day. An normal smoke detector, for example, goes through 3.5 million monitoring cycles in 10 years.

Just like any electrical appliance, the working components of smoke alarms wear out over time. When the smoke detector reaches 10 years of use, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases. Replacing them after 10 years reduces the likelihood of failure.




What Is Carbon Monoxide?


Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 1,500 people die annually due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and additional 10,000 seek medical attention. (Medical experts agree that it's difficult to estimate the total number of carbon monoxide poisoning incidents because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble so many other common ailments.


Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement:

Proper placement of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector is important. If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provides extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Homeowners should remember not to install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.

When considering where to place a carbon monoxide detector, keep in mind that although carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air (carbon monoxide's specific gravity is 0.9657, as stated by the EPA; the National Resource Council lists the specific gravity of air as one), it may be contained in warm air coming from combustion appliances such as home heating equipment. If this is the case, carbon monoxide will rise with the warmer air.

Installation locations vary by manufacturer. Manufacturers' recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with each one's specific detector. Therefore, make sure to read the provided installation manual for each detector before installing. (Source:




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