CT Chief Shares Cooking Safety after Fire Station Fire

Nov. 5, 2023
Fairfield firefighters left a stove burner on when they were dispatched to a call, igniting fire in the station's kitchen.

Nov. 3—FAIRFIELD — Fairfield firefighters had to put out a fire in their own kitchen Thursday evening, the department said Friday.

The blaze was an accident caused by firefighters leaving a frying pan cooking on the stove while responding to a call, according to a post on the Fire Department's Facebook page. There were no reported injuries.

Fire Marshal and Assistant Chief Phil Higgins reported the blaze at 5:57 p.m. as the kitchen heat detector activated the building's fire alarm. After Higgins discovered the source of the fire, he called 911 and requested assistance. A firefighter who stopped by the station to pick up supplies then came and used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

More firefighters arrived on the scene a few minutes later and reported heavy smoke coming from the back of the building. Firefighters made sure the blaze was put out and then used large fans to clear out the smoke.

"The fire damage was contained to the pan with some minor extension to the wooden cabinet above the stove," the Fire Department said. "The heat damage melted the plastic blinds covering the windows, and the heavy smoke damaged the walls and contents of the kitchen. The entire area was blanketed with the dry powder extinguishing agent contained in the 20 lb. fire extinguisher used to put out the fire."

Higgins determined the cause of the fire was accidental.

The firefighters at Station 1 had been preparing dinner — chicken parmigiana — by frying breaded filets in a pan of oil. However, they had to stop their cooking four times to respond to different emergency calls.

"Each time they stopped cooking, they took the chicken out of the pan, put it on the rack, turned off the burner, turned off the oven, put on their fire gear and responded to the call," the Fire Department said. "The last time they left the fire station and responded to an automatic fire alarm at Heritage Square on the Post Road, they accidentally left the burner on."

In a statement, Higgins underscored that the fire was accidental and "accidents happen."

"Just because we're firefighters, that does not mean we are immune from them happening to us," he said. "Just like any other fire in town, after the fire is out, we pick up and go back to service. We try to learn from each incident how to prevent them from happening, and how to minimize damage from fires we could not prevent. In this case, there are many lessons to be learned."

The Fire Department noted that the door to the kitchen was kept closed, and if it had been left open "the outcome would have been very different."

The Fire Department also used this opportunity to remind residents how to stay safe this holiday season. While cooking, residents should not leave their food unattended and keep a lid handy to cover the pot in case of a small fire. If a small fire occurs, use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket to extinguish the flames.

Water should never be used to extinguish a grease fire, the department added. If the fire occurs in an oven or microwave, do not open the oven or microwave door.

"If you're unsure about your ability to control the fire, evacuate and let your firefighters handle it," the department continued. "Be sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that are tested monthly."

Residents also should develop an emergency evacuation plan, and practice the plan, the department said, and residents should know where the fire extinguishers and fire exits are.

"Nobody plans on having a kitchen fire, but when they happen, it's important to have a plan," the department said. "From our kitchen to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season!"


(c)2023 the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.)

Visit the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.) at www.ctpost.com

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