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Scarsdale Fire Official Urges Home Safety Checks

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The Christmas morning house fire in Stamford that killed three young girls and their grandparents stunned the region, but it was just one of several major fires that have burned their way into the public consciousness this winter. Blazes in Norwalk , Westport and Larchmont have all served as reminders that fire safety must be taken seriously.

Scarsdale Fire Inspector Al Mignone told The Daily Scarsdale there are always a lot of inquiries about safety after a major fire, and urged homeowners to jump on the bandwagon.

"We've been getting a lot of requests for home safety inspections," Mignone said. "We do them regularly, and they're free."

Mignone said the most important thing people can do is to be sure smoke detectors are installed and working. He also stressed the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, especially in homes that use fuel-fired devices.

"Never have gas or propane-fired appliances in the house unless they are being used in an appropriate application," Mignone said. “Never use a kerosene-fired heater. The fumes give off carbon monoxide, and they burn off the oxygen."

Anyone with a wood-burning fireplace or stove should have a metal container to hold the embers once the fire is out, and the embers should be stored for 24 hours and hosed down before disposal. Investigators have blamed improper storage and disposal of fireplace for starting the deadly Stamford blaze.

Mignone also said that the Scarsdale Fire Department recommends installing sprinkler systems whenever possible.

"If a building is three stories, or two and a half, homeowners can install a sprinkler system and then they can occupy the third floor. It can increase the living space up to 30 percent,” Mignone.

He added that sprinkler systems can earn a homeowner up to 25 percent off of their fire insurance, and in the long haul, pay for themselves. Even owners of smaller homes are starting to install systems.

Many surrounding communities have codes that require new homes to have sprinklers. Mignone said Scarsdale Village approved an item for the code that would require sprinklers, but the state did not accept it, so it is not enforceable.

Mignone has plenty of safety literature covering all areas of home fire safety. For more information, or to schedule a home inspection, e-mail amignone@scarsdale.com or call (914) 722-1219.

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