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Fire Safety Facts

Presented by: Southern Missouri Professional Fire Fighters Local 3904. A proud member of International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, CLC, Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters, Springfield Area Labor Council.

Using 911

At the Christian County 911 Center, personnel are civilians trained in emergency dispatching procedures and emergency operations. Christian County Emergency Services operates the center from Ozark, Missouri.

Common fire emergencies include structure fires, brush fires, automobile accidents with injuries and smoke investigations. Common medical emergencies include heart attack, respiratory difficulty, seizures and ill persons.

When a call is received by the 9-1-1, they will say, “9-1-1, what is your emergency ?”. The caller should tell the call receiver which type of emergency they are reporting or give a description of the problem, allowing the call receiver to route the call the appropriate response personnel.

If it is a law enforcement matter, a fire or medical emergency, they will begin to dispatch emergency units immediately. If it is a medical emergency, the dispatcher will transfer the call to a medically trained dispatcher. A fire department unit will be sent to ensure that help arrives as soon as possible.

Whenever a person calls 9-1-1, their message needs to be clear. They also need to stay on the phone until the person in the dispatch center has released them from the conversation.

Try to stay calm. State what kind of emergency it is – fire, car accident, heart attack, etc., then tell the dispatcher where the incident is.

Stay on the phone. The dispatcher may ask more questions or want you to stay on the line. Emergency units already have been dispatched even while you are talking with the dispatcher. Children should be taught their home address and telephone number as soon as possible.

Emergency Medical Services

Learn CPR, contact American Heart Association or American Red Cross.

When dialing 9-1-1, be sure to answer all the dispatchers’ questions and provide specific information about the condition of the person requiring medical assistance. Speak slowly and stay calm. Stay on the phone until instructed to hang up.

As you are speaking with the dispatcher, medical units are already being sent to your location.

To direct emergency personnel to the scene, turn on an outside light and, if available, send someone out to meet them.

Unlock gates or doors, so firefighters can make entry.

Fire department medical units are frequently the first units to arrive on scene, they will not be transporting an ill or injured person to the hospital. The fire department medical units are sent to stabilize the injured or ill until an ambulance crew can arrive, and to assist the ambulance crew upon their arrival.

Escape Plans

The most important aspect of fire safety is getting everyone out quickly and safely.

Plan and Practice Your Escape!

You should plan two ways out of every sleeping room. Create at least two different escape routes and practice them with the entire family. Children are at double the risk of dying in a home fire because they often become scared and confused during fires.

Plan a place for the whole family to meet at once you are out of the house. A mailbox is a good example. Never go back into a fire!

Installing smoke detectors is the first step in a plan to escape.

If you have more than one story, a fire escape ladder is recommended to help you get out alive.

Nixa Fire Protection District personnel will provide your family or business assistance with making your escape plan.

Smoke Detectors

Every year thousands of people die from fires in the home. Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year. Property damage from fire costs us at least $11.2 billion yearly. Most fire victims feel that fire would “never happen to them.”

Although we like to feel safe at home, about two-thirds of our nation’s fire deaths happen in the victim’s own home. The home is where we are at the greatest risk and where we must take the most precautions. Most deaths occur from inhaling smoke or poisonous gases, not from the flames.

Most fatal fires occur in residential buildings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are more likely to be asleep. More than 90 percent of fire deaths in buildings occur in residential dwellings.

A Johns Hopkins University study, funded by the United States Fire Administration, found that 75 percent of residential fire deaths and 84 percent of residential fire injuries could have been prevented by smoke detectors.

Choosing a smoke detector

When choosing a smoke detector, there are several things to consider. Think about which areas of the house you want to protect, where fire would be most dangerous, how many you will need, etc.

Every home should have a smoke detector inside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms or family rooms. Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens.

The safest bet is to have a combination detector with a battery back up. Be sure to check for a testing laboratory label on the detector. It means that samples of that particular model have been tested under operating conditions. Check to see if it is easy to maintain and clean. Be sure bulbs and batteries are easy to purchase and convenient to install.


Keeping smoke detectors in good condition is easy. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to replace the batteries every year or as needed. Most models will make a chirping, popping or beeping sound when the battery is losing its charge. When this sound is heard, install a fresh battery, preferably an alkaline type.

The Nixa Fire Protection District provides free smoke detectors for those households who are in need of them.


Fire extinguishers, when operated by a person knowledgeable in their use can significantly reduce fire damage. Training is essential. If you have a fire extinguisher available, be sure it is a Class ABC extinguisher, with a testing laboratory label. Use an extinguisher only if:

  1. The fire department is being called. (9-1-1)
  2. The building is being evacuated. Activate fire alarm, if available.
  3. You know you have a 2A-10BC extinguisher and already know how to operate it.
  4. The fire is small and contained in the area where it started.
  5. You can fight the fire with your back to an exit.

If any of these is not true, get out immediately and dial 9-1-1.

Training classes and information pertaining to fire extinguishers are available from the Nixa Fire Protection District.


Keep fire extinguishers in good working order at all times. Be sure they are mounted in conspicuous, accessible locations. Annual servicing by qualified personnel is required.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. It can kill you before you know it because you can’t see it, taste it or smell it. At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems. Some people may be more vulnerable to CO poisoning such as fetuses, infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems.

CO poisoning can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and irritability. Later stages of CO poisoning can cause vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion of fossil fuels. Fumes from automobiles contain high levels of CO. Appliances such as furnaces, space heaters, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, water heaters, charcoal grills, fireplaces and wood burning stoves produce CO. Carbon monoxide usually is vented to the outside if appliances function correctly and the home is vented properly. Problems occur when furnace heat exchanger crack or vents and chimneys become blocked. Insulation sometimes can trap CO in the home.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the bedrooms. If a home has more than one story, a detector should be placed on each story.

The following is a checklist for where to look for problem sources of CO in the home:

  • A forced air furnace is frequently the source of leaks and should be carefully inspected. Remember you can’t smell carbon monoxide.
  • Check all venting systems to the outside including flues and chimneys for cracks, corrosion, holes, debris, blockages.
  • Check all other appliances in the home that use flammable fuels such as natural gas, oil, propane, wood or kerosene.
  • Pilot lights can be a source of carbon monoxide because the by-products of combustion are released inside the home rather than vented outside.
  • Be sure space heaters are vented properly.
  • Barbecue grills should never be operated indoors under any circumstances nor should stove tops or ovens that operate on flammable fuels be used to heat a residence.

Heating Sources

Cold weather means many residents will be turning on heating systems that have not been used since spring. Before heating systems are turned on, they should be checked to make sure they will operate properly and safely. A family member can do this, but remember to read and follow all instructions carefully. Instructions are supplied by the manufacturer and usually are located on the inside door cover near the pilot light. If you can’t locate the instructions or you’re unsure of what you’re doing, call a professional service person or someone qualified to insure the job is done correctly.

Wall Heaters

Wall heaters should be checked for proper ignition and proper ventilation. Soot or black marks on the wall can mean that the burner jets are dirty or not adjusted to burn the fuel properly. This means higher amounts of carbon monoxide are being created. Without ventilation to the outside, carbon monoxide fumes accumulate in the home. A flushed face or a slight headache can be the first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If this happens, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1 for the fire department from a neighbor’s house.

Portable Heaters

Space heaters need at least three feet of space between the heater and combustibles like drapes, furniture and beds. Also, make sure small children cannot get near space heaters and suffer contact burns from touching them. As with any electrical appliance, check the cord to make sure it is not frayed or worn. Extension cords should not be used with electric space heaters. Electric space heaters also are dangerous in the bathroom because of cramped space and radiated heat as well as the danger of electrical appliances and water. Never touch an electric space heater if your hands are wet or if you are in contact with water. Never leave a space heater on when you go to bed or leave the house.

Kerosene Heaters

The Fire Department does not recommend the use of kerosene heaters in homes. If you must use a kerosene heater, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Use only the manufacturer’s approved fuel. Store the fuel outside the house and always let the heater cool before filling it outside the home. Kerosene heaters must have adequate ventilation because they use up oxygen inside a room as they operate.

Charcoal Briquettes and Barbecues

Charcoal briquettes and barbecues never should be used for cooking or heating inside the home or any other closed area. They can quickly fill a closed space with carbon monoxide fumes.

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