Division of Fire Safety Reminds Residents of Important Fire Safety Tips in the Wake of Fire Tragedies in New York and Philadelphia

  • Posted on: 01/12/2022

Provides Resources to Help Families Stay Fire Safe

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety is today offering important fire safety tips and resources to inform individuals and families of precautions they can take to prevent fire in their homes. The resources include how to implement a home escape plan in the event of fire.

“Governor Murphy and I are saddened by the recent fire tragedies in New York and Philadelphia.  We urge everyone to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and pay attention to the other potentially life-saving guidance provided,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are proven life-savers and the simple act of checking and changing their batteries will help keep you and your loved ones safe.”

“It is always a tragedy when there is a loss of life from fire. Our hearts go out to the people who perished in these fires,” said State Fire Marshal Richard Mikutsky, who serves as Director of the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety. “We want to recognize the valiant efforts of the fire service in both of these tragic events. They helped to save lives during these fires. We hope that by reviewing the following safety tips and resources, you can keep you and your family safe.”

The State Fire Marshal advises the following fire safety steps should be followed:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • Be sure the smoke alarm includes the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. They should always be replaced with 10-year sealed battery models.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once per month.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan with all members of the household.
  • Close interior doors before retiring for the evening.
  • Check the exhaust screen on home clothes dryers and remove accumulated lint, which is a common fire hazard in the home.

In the event of a fire in your home, Fire Marshal Mikutsky reminds residents to close the door behind them, which can buy time in a fire. He states the following:

  • A closed door can hold back fire’s heat. In tests, an open-door room reached dangerous temperatures while a closed-door room stayed under 100° F.
  • A fire needs oxygen to burn. Don’t let it take yours! A closed door can keep more oxygen in the room – and away from the fire – so you can breathe better.
  • Closing the bedroom door at night could give you more time to react to if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • A closed door can help slow fire’s spread and keep dangerous smoke away from you.
  • Because of the plastics in most modern furniture and household items, fire is more toxic, burns hotter, and spreads much faster than ever before.
  • A fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen to exist. Closing the door when exiting a burning structure can cut off the oxygen and slow the growth of fire.

As we continue to experience frigid temperatures, there may be a need to use space heaters or alternative heating devices. The Division offers the following safety tips and precautions about home heating equipment:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Look for an independent lab label such as UL, which set minimum safety standards for manufacture.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Never use with a household extension cord. Make sure the device has a “tip over” switch that turns the heater off if it’s knocked over.
  • Never run any size cord, extension or hard wired, under a rug where damage can occur unnoticed. 

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as engaging the public on community risk reduction strategies, assisting in fire department preparedness, and conducting firefighter training programs.  

Additional fire safety resources can be found online here:

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: 

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Lisa Ryan,
Gina Trish,
Tammori Petty
ph#: 609-292-6055