02/11/2009: "Avoid Having A Fire"
By Robert Low
With the recent fire at one of our local restaurants due to spontaneous combustion, County businesses have been asking how they can prevent the same thing from happing to them-and the advice goes to home owners too.
The most important point to make is that these fires are extremely rare. However there are some things one can do to lower the chance of ever having one.
Do not put items that have been spotted or soaked with vegetable oil or cooking oil in the dryer. They are a fire hazard. Oil- affected items can ignite spontaneously, especially when exposed to heat sources such as in a tumble dryer. The items become warm causing an oxidation reaction in the oil. This oxidation creates heat. If the heat cannot escape, the items can become hot enough to catch fire. Piling, stacking or storing oil -affected items can prevent heat from escaping creating a fire hazard.
If it is unavoidable that fabrics that contain vegetable oil or cooking oil must be placed in a tumble dryer, wash them first in hot water with extra detergent -this will reduce, but not eliminate the fire hazard. Use the Air Dry cycle of the dryer to reduce the temperature of these items. Do not remove them from the tumble dryer or pile or stack them while they are still hot. All clothes should go through the cool down/airing phase of the cycle.
Please remember the main reason we do fire and life safety inspections in our business community is to keep you, your customers and your lively hood safe from fire
(Robert Low is the the San Juan County Fire Marshal. He can be reached at 378-FIRE 378-3473)