1. #1
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    Co11FireGal's Avatar
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    Question Winter/Holiday Calls

    It's a give me that every year there will be several structure fires due to such things as unmaintained chimneys, space heaters and unwatered Christmas trees...but what are some of the more unusual calls that go out in your area during the holiday season?

    Anyone else been called out for an investigation of a CO detector going off to find someone burning like 30 candles in their house? They were all red and green and smelled like ginger bread and other nice Christmas scents...very festive but not too smart...

    Or how about hot coals from the fire place left in plastic buckets for the night? OR...this one was good...a guy can't figure out why his siding is smoking after he dumped said coals from the melting plastic bucket out his window...
    IACOJ

    "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap it if we do not lose heart."

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Winter/Holiday Calls

    Hot coals causing problems? Yes.

    Candles causing fires? Yes.

    Candles causing CO problems? Never heard that one before... there was a chainletter a while back that contained a scenario like that, but was shown to be a hoax.
    Last edited by Resq14; 12-04-2004 at 03:40 AM.
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    Default Re: Re: Winter/Holiday Calls

    Originally posted by Resq14
    Candles causing fires? Yes.

    Candles causing CO problems? Never heard that one before... there was a chainletter a while back that contained a scenario like that, but was shown to be a hoax.
    Yeah, how about that? Can anyone offer some insight as to what may have been going on? Everything that I've ever heard has said that candles won't cause a problem, as the put out only water vapor and some carbon dioxide...but I was holding the gas monitor so I can't deny that the CO levels were up...and we're not talking being near anything else burning. This was standing in the ladies' living room...
    Last edited by Co11FireGal; 12-04-2004 at 04:47 AM.
    IACOJ

    "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap it if we do not lose heart."

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Re: Re: Winter/Holiday Calls

    Originally posted by Co11FireGal

    but I was holding the gas monitor so I can't deny that the CO levels were up...
    How "up" are we talking?

    Candles will generate some CO... but I can't believe in enough quantity to generate more than a few ppm. It will depend on the type of candle, how many, size of room, how airtight the room is, and the oxygen level in the room.

    If there was nothing else capable of generating CO (appliances, HVAC units, vehicles)... must've been the candles. Do you recall the reading?

    While we're on the topic, might as well post some CO level info:
    CO Exposure
    9 ppm
    EPA residential standard - not to exceed 9 ppm in 8 hours.

    35 ppm
    EPA residential standard - not to exceed 35 ppm in 1 hour.

    50 ppm
    OSHA workplace standard - not to exceed 50 ppm in an 8 hour period.

    200 ppm
    Slight headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea after 2-3 hours.

    400 ppm
    Frontal headaches within 1-2 hours.
    Life threatening after 3 hours.

    800 ppm
    Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes.
    Unconsciousness with 2 hours. Death within 2-3 hours.

    1600 ppm
    Headache, dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes.
    Death within 1 hour.

    12,800 ppm
    Death within 1-3 minutes.

    Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standards for CO Alarms @ 85 decibels
    30 ppm present
    Alarm will sound when present for more than 30 days.
    (Alarm required to ignore low-level concentration of CO unless present long-term.)

    70 ppm present
    Alarm will sound within 1-4 hours.
    (Alarm required to ignore concentration levels of 70 ppm for at least 1 hour before
    alarm will sound.)

    150 ppm present
    Alarm will sound within 10-50 minutes.

    400 ppm present
    Alarm will sound within 4-15 minutes.
    Last edited by Resq14; 12-04-2004 at 06:12 AM.
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    I dread the upcoming suicide attempts this holiday season. It always increases this time of year.


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    Lst year, on Christmas night, it was raining cats and dogs all day. Had two odd calls as a result.

    First, about 8 AM, we got toned out for smoke coming from under a house. When the engine got on scene, they were able to determine that the smoke was coming from the chimney, but because of the weather, the smoke was sinking and did appear to be coming from under the house.

    Then, about 6 PM (just as I'm sitting down to dinner with the family), tones go off for a vegetation fire. I look outside and wonder, what's could be burning out there, and head into the station.

    Turns out was a palm frond that fell onto the powerlines and lit, then fell into the street.

    Best part was, one of our guys was driving into the station along that street, looking for the fire on the way, and didn't see the smoldering palm frond in the street, so he accidentally drove over it...and in doing so extinguished it!
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    Default Its the most wonderful time of the year ..(When youre off duty)

    I have found that the month of December really is the leader when it comes to tragedies. The first real cold weather of the year, all the issues related to the holidays along with the usual stuff all add up. Anyone who has spent more then a couple years in the fire service can tell you about some of the truly sad things that they have responded to this time of year. Some are worse then others and my hope to all of you is that this holiday season is an "off year".
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Christmas Night last year, we got toned out to an involved Oak Log House, and one winter night my dogs dog house burnt up! I still catch flack for that at the station!

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    Giant christmas tree strapped to the top of the van. The rope that was lashing it down frayed and the tree flew backwards. Luckily, the guy saw it and leaned across the seat. Tree went through the car, knocking off two head rests and coming to a stop in the rear seat. Man lost control of the vehicle and hit the jersey barrier. Close call, but minimal injury.

    I have to agree Mikey. There's nothing worse than going to a house fire on Christmas night, or Christmas Eve. But it always seems to happen. But it does make you feel really good when you can help people and minimize the damage. All of that salvage and overhaul and PR stuff really pays off when people are able to stay in their home because you rapidly controlled a minor fire and their house was deemed safe to stay in, or when they look at you relieved knowing they're safe.
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

    Safety is no accident.

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter/Holiday Calls

    Originally posted by Resq14
    While we're on the topic, might as well post some CO level info:
    At what point do you force homeowners to evacuate? Depending on who you speak to within my department, the CO level at which occupants should not be allowed inside ranges from 35+ to 100+.

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    Oh I got ya one for the hot coals causing problems.
    1) Homeowner empties wood stove / fire place into mice metal bucket & places it outside (so far so good)
    2) Couple of days later Homeowner takes said bucket as (s)he takes off their trash to the area dumpsters (for those with city type home front pick up - these are big metal boxes that get emptied by big trucks 2-3 times per week )

    At this point one of 3 things happens
    1) Nothing as all coals have cooled by this time
    2) Hot coals that were insulated by the ash are now exposed to fresh air and lots of fuel = Dumpster Fire
    3) Hot coals remain insulated in the dumpster until the truck comes along and empties it. NOW we have a real problem. Major Mobile trash fire.

    Now for them that don't see this as a problem (and at least a little funny) - here's the scenario. All the workers at the regional landfill have "standing orders" to clear the way if they see a truck coming in too fast and/or smoking.

    All drivers have "standing orders" to dump that sucker out anywhere they have to (Lot easier to clean up burnt garbage than to replace a front loading garbage truck).

    I have been party to one instance where a driver had to do just that - on a major roadway. We get the call to wet it down & the county gets the call to clean it up.

    On another occasion I heard the call where one department was dispatched to the landfill to await the arrival of a truck "coming in hot" and a second department was dispatched to intercept or chase the truck should he have to dump the load.

    So yes - those pesky coals & ashes can cause all kinds of problems.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

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    Unfortunately the holidays are ripe with incidents.

    Some of ours in the past:

    Electrical fires from overloaded decorations

    Kitchen fire from unattended cooking - real thing on arrival

    Reported Kitchen fire - really the oven on self clean but nobody ever told the resident to scrape the big stuff off first and let the self clean feature burn of the splatters.

    Structure fire - turned out the resident was burning one of those candle displays that they advertise as being put in a fireplace opening to give the appearance of a real fireplace. You know like a dozen or so candle on a tiered metal stand. Problem is she apparently burned up the original candles and replaced with her own. Apparently because they were bigger that the ones that came with the unit, they all sort of blended together into one pretty big fire with wax running all over the place. No real problem since it was in the fireplace, but boy did the wax make a mess

    CO calls are more a product of heating season not directly related to the holidays however we do see a jump in med. calls. Heart Attacks, Suicide attempts, falls from the ladder putting up lights, kids ingested decorations. CPR in a house decorated for christmas always stinks, but somehow it always seems to happen over the course of the season.

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    Default

    Originally posted by N2DFire


    Now for them that don't see this as a problem (and at least a little funny) - here's the scenario. All the workers at the regional landfill have "standing orders" to clear the way if they see a truck coming in too fast and/or smoking.

    All drivers have "standing orders" to dump that sucker out anywhere they have to (Lot easier to clean up burnt garbage than to replace a front loading garbage truck).

    I have been party to one instance where a driver had to do just that - on a major roadway. We get the call to wet it down & the county gets the call to clean it up.

    On another occasion I heard the call where one department was dispatched to the landfill to await the arrival of a truck "coming in hot" and a second department was dispatched to intercept or chase the truck should he have to dump the load.

    So yes - those pesky coals & ashes can cause all kinds of problems.
    We also have had quite a few problems with garbage trucks and hot loads (that's just sounds wrong... ). The local landfill, which is in our city, has a contract with some company to haul the "hot sludge" for them, which then comes into the landfill to be buried. We have had quite a few calls for the trucks on fire. Depending on how bad it is, we will try to soak it down, then follow them to the landfill until they get it dumped and have their heavy equipment there to take care of the problem.......

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    Last year in one day we had 3 structure fires within 2 hours of eachother caused by residents attempting to thaw frozen pipes.We get these occasionally when the first real cold comes. Three so close was just odd.

    Rigin

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    Christmas morning 1999

    I arrived first at a mobile home on fire. Mom was screaming outside, had two children with her (oh crap, why is she screaming?). Dad was standing with a numb expression, with his hands in his pockets, staring at the flames coming out of the more heavily involved end as smoke poured from the other end. First due engine was a couple of minutes away.

    Turns out that despite the screams which knotted my insides fearing a trapped person, everyone was out, it was your everyday vanilla hysterical response to seeing your house burn down.

    With no water, there wasn't much I could do except radio in the size up, walk around the structure to evaluate exposures, and pre-plan apparatus placement. Pulled a portable propane heater and tank away from the structure.

    Help arrived but it was far too late, those older mobile homes go up in no time. We saved the frame, and the walls and roof were mostly intact but it was a total loss. Pulling charred, unopened presents out during overhaul, having the soggy wrapping paper peel off and the contents spill on the ground. Yanking down the remaining christmas light strings to eliminate the tripping hazard.

    Turns out the pipes had frozen, and dad was attempting to warm the underside of the structure with the previously mentioned propane heater. We've all made mistakes, and this one was a doozy, but no one afflicted with questionable judgement deserves this kind of day, least of all their kids.

    Christmas house fires are among my least favorite things , but thank goodness no one was hurt or killed that day.

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    Having lived in a northern climate for most of my life I can tell ya some intresting stories ....

    ... like the folks from NJ who decided that they needed to wrap
    thier car engine in an electric blanket to keep it warm and shug
    overnight ...

    ... or the folks that decided that those annoying woodstove ashes
    would be perfectly safe in that paper bag (they must have fire
    resistant paper where they are from) left resting on the wooden
    porch .....
    (hey it was only a rental...)

    ... and of course, I can't foget the renters who decided they really
    wanted to BBQ on Christmas Eve and felt that the BBQ in the
    garage shouldn't cause any problems ....
    (did I mention that they got a 'lil impatient and decided a bit
    of gasoline on the coals, after they ran out of lighter fluid,
    would speed things up ???)

    ... and how could I leave out the relatives of the above rocket
    scientists who decided that since the gasoline in the garage
    trick worked so well they thought they would give it a go
    in the fireplace.....

    If it wasn't for stupid people ... we'd be out of business.

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    Toned to a res. alarm activation. This lady (in a very very nice home) had apparently taken the wood out of the woodstove earlier in the day when she left for work (why, I don't know). She set most of the charred pieces on the tile, but put one piece on the rug (which was on the carpet). End result? Small fire that burnt almost through the floor and woulda' been a big fire if they didn't have an alarm!

    Weather causes us the usual grief; snow, ice, fog, all play a part in the bumper-cars that inevitably results on the freeway/highways. Still, that's not the bad stuff. A couple thanksgivings ago we had a storm come through, and it caused a bunch of tree-downs, lines-down, and MVAs. We left one MVA and went about a block down the road to a code. Middle aged guy coded right after the thanksgiving dinner. We worked him with flashlights while the huge family stood around. That was a bummer. Hope this season produces nothing but humorous anecdotes for everyone!
    "The more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in battle."

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    I've been on a few bad calls around the holidays. 1st one was about 3-4 years ago. Christmas morning about 10:30-11:00 The ambulance service and FD (next town over from me, the ambulance covers 7 towns)get called to a MVC on a stretch of road where the snow blows across the road from 2 fields. Turns out a small vehicle (I think it was an older model cavelier) lost traction on the snow and hit a midsized SUV. the car was about 300' away from the road on a lawn. the driver (18 y/o female) was unconscious, and the passenger (the driver's mother) was killed instantly on impact. They ended up paging out for the 2nd ambulance, so I went. It was a very somber scene, seeing the car already covered with a tarp, and blood stains on the freshly fallen snow on the lawn. Then having to see the faces of the people going on their way to relatives houses, just like the patients were doing, as they drove by. The daughter ended up fully recovering, but will never recover from having her mom die on Christmas morning. The other bad call was 2 years ago, right before Christmas. We had a structure fire at a residence. I was the 3rd one on scene to find the arriving crew pulling a woman out of the front door. She had major burns to most of her body. She was flown to Boston for the burn center where she ended up passing away. Turns out it was her birthday that day. Cause of fire was a short in an extension cord to the christmas tree. The woman had been out of the house, but ran back in to get her citizenship papers. It's sad that she lost her life to get some papers...
    I always hate bad calls around the holidays, and it seems like I'm always on them.
    The comments made by me are my opinions only, not of the Fire and EMS services I am affiliated with.

    I have lost my mind..has anyone seen it? it's not worth much..but it's mine

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    When it gets cold I always expect furnace backfires and car accidents. Oh...and paying more for my heating bill!

    EDIT: Though, I will say that whenever there's a fire during the cold season it always sucks being outside afterwards...you end up wishing you brought an extra pair of clothes.

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    I remember being dispatched to a mobile home fire on Christmas Eve night in 2001. When we made entry, we found smoke throughout the home -- but no fire. As it turns out, the occupants had left home with a candle burning on the kitchen table. The candle caught the table on fire & charged the home with smoke before burning itself out.

    I've never seen such a small fire manage to get *everything* as dirty as it did that night -- including the Christmas tree lights. The lights were turned on... but because of the dirty film that covered them, were very dark. It was a odd sight because Christmas trees are usually so bright and colorful.

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    If it wasn't for stupid people ... we'd be out of business.

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