Fire Marshals William Ciner, of Roseville; Scott Desmadryl, of St. Clair Shores; Brian Marquardt, of Eastpointe; and Jason Poole, of Fraser; recently got together to provide a list of holiday safety tips for the public.

Fire Marshals William Ciner, of Roseville; Scott Desmadryl, of St. Clair Shores; Brian Marquardt, of Eastpointe; and Jason Poole, of Fraser; recently got together to provide a list of holiday safety tips for the public.

Photo provided by Jason Poole


Fire marshals offer Christmas safety prevention tips

By: Brendan Losinski, Kristyne E. Demske, Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published December 3, 2020

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MACOMB COUNTY — Christmas is fast approaching, encouraging four Macomb County fire marshals to collaborate and provide the public with useful fire safety tips.

Marshals William Ciner, of Roseville; Scott Desmadryl, of St. Clair Shores; Brian Marquardt, of Eastpointe; and Jason Poole, of Fraser, said the proper safety practices came about as many families are decorating earlier than usual this year in an effort to pass time and bring joy.

The tips touch on natural Christmas trees, light connections, electricity overload, cooking hazards and smoke detectors.

“We just want everybody to be safe,” Marquardt said. “We don’t want to have to show up to their house without a smile on their face. We don’t want anybody to cause an unnecessary fire with the trees and other risks.”

For those who purchase and utilize natural trees, they are recommended to make one half-inch cuts into the bottom of the tree to open pores clogged by sap, allowing the tree to absorb water so it doesn’t dry out.

Nowadays, LED lights have become ubiquitous because they don’t produce heat and reduce the electric bill. Some people still do use older incandescent bulbs but they limit connections — usually four or five sets can be connected end to end, while LED mini strings could connect up to 40 or 50 ends together. Circuits play a role, too, as many household circuits are only 15 or 20 amps.

The marshals recommend that extension cords not be used for indoor decorations. Instead, utilize a surge-protected power strip that is Underwriter-Laboratory certified and can be purchased at most stores, as much as 10 feet long.

Marquardt mentioned a recent fire in Roseville caused by an overused outlet.

“Electrical safety with plugging numerous things into one outlet can be dangerous,” Marquardt said. “Portable space heaters can be something people have to be careful with. Always be in the room with them and make sure they are plugged into the wall and not into an extension cord or something.”

Poole said chimney fires are a silent assassin when it comes to house fires, due to homeowners not getting their chimneys cleaned of soot buildup — notably in wood-burning fireplaces.

These fires are very dangerous and capable of burning down a building. Poole recommended the purchase of Chimfex, a suppressant “like a flare” that is placed in the fireplace and should extinguish flames in moments.

It’s important to use care and only put seasoned hardwood into an indoor fireplace, Desmadryl said, not any paper debris or yard waste. 

“The seasoned hardwood tends to burn cleaner and puts out less creosote,” he said. “Pine is a very gooey, sticky wood with sap and that tends to leave a lot of creosote in the chimney pipes. You get that buildup (and it) can catch fire.”

It is always important to monitor a fire, however, because everything can be done correctly and there can still be problems due to the age of the fireplace, he said. 

“They might have had something that failed along the way,” he said. “Be diligent and make sure you don’t have any bird nests or animals that have built nests around your chimney flues that can dry out and possibly catch fire.”

Another easy safety precaution is to keep up with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The fire marshals recommend that they periodically be checked and replaced with batteries if necessary, such as when clocks are changed for daylight saving time. These detectors can often work successfully for eight to 10 years before replacement is required.

Cooking fires still reign supreme as the most common annual cause of home fires, not only during the holidays, but throughout the entire year. They do tend to escalate around the holidays, though, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

As the pandemic rages on, Poole said he would hope cooking fires decrease due to more smaller gatherings this year. People who don’t cook on a regular basis, though, could be more prone to starting fires — like being unknowledgeable and using a deep fryer to fry to a turkey, for example.

As of Dec. 2, Poole said the city of Fraser hadn’t been called to any major fires in 2020. “We never want to go to a house fire,” Marquardt said. “Even if everyone is safe, people still lose possessions. We want to get that message out and make sure they know the risks. Especially with COVID, because there are more people staying at home, those risks are out there.”

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