With low temperatures, home heating fires become more common

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Firefighters work at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx, last week. (Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo)

BINGHATON, NY (WSKG)—Heating equipment is the second-largest cause of home fires nationally. They tend to occur in winter as people try to get the chill out of their homes.

Elmira Fire Marshal Richard Keyes said the home-heating fires he has seen typically spur from a lack of maintenance.

“Just a poor running of a furnace, because the furnaces should be serviced and checked,” Keyes said.

Furnaces and chimneys should both be serviced by a qualified technician once a year.

As fire marshal, Keyes inspects rental units every three years. Landlords in New York are responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within 10 feet of every bedroom.

Keyes said smoke detectors should also be on every floor, and inside every bedroom.

“And outside the bedrooms, within 10 to 15 feet in the common area,” he added, “so that you have a smoke detector that will signal on either side of that closed door.”

Keyes urged every resident to make sure they have working smoke detectors. Tenants are responsible for changing the batteries.

“We encourage people that, when we change the clock, change the batteries,” said John D’Alessandro, secretary of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

Nearly half of all heating-related home fires involve space heaters, according to the National Fire Protection Association. D’Alessandro said residents using them should do so with caution.

“If you’re going to use portable space heaters, make sure they’re away from combustible materials, number one,” he said.

Space heaters fueled with liquid like kerosene should never be used indoors.