‘Know-it-All’ Mindset Isn’t Productive

In a field such as emergency services, changes are inevitable. New innovations and tactics will come into effect, lessons will be learned, and adaptations will be made. And being in such a seasonally and socially diverse area, Cape May County is always a prime location for such changes. The changing times have brought about new aspects of emergency response and preparedness from fire departments, tasks that were never imagined or foreseen as viable duties to a fire department’s success. Continue reading


Should Highway 55 Go All the Way to the Shore?

CAPE MAY COUNTY- Each year, tens of thousands of travelers make their way to Jersey Shore points in Cape May County via State Highway 55. But many find that their vacation getaways come to an abrupt halt in Port Elizabeth, where the four-lane highway turns into the two-lane Route 47 and traffic comes to a standstill. Continue reading

Be Aware of Surrounding Utilities at an Incident

While out of the county last week, I was in a building when a fire alarm went off. The building’s occupants quickly existed the multiple-story building properly through the use of the recently-constructed building’s emergency exit stairwells. The area’s fire department arrived on location and proceeded to park their apparatus under the building’s center breezeway, with five stories of structure above the engine. Continue reading

‘When Cooking, Never Leave the Kitchen Unattended’

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and the official start of the holiday season. For many area households, family and friends throughout our area will be gathering to celebrate together. Holiday celebrations also bring upon a large array of food – and the increased risk of holiday-related fires. Continue reading

Atlantic City Electric Restore More Efficiently After Lessons Learned

Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey coast as a category one hurricane, and left over 1 million New Jersey residents without power for several weeks. With much criticism about the 2011 Hurricane Irene response, and temperatures projected to plummet to below freezing temperatures just a few days after Hurricane Sandy tore through New Jersey’s electrical infrastructure, New Jersey’s utility companies were sent scrambling to get customers back on the grid. Continue reading

Area Departments Answer Call For Assistance after Hurricane

While Cape May County was spared some of the worst of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath earlier this month, areas directly to our north were not as fortunate. Several of the county’s fire departments, that had utilized personnel and resources in advance of this record-setting storm, were able to assist areas that weren’t as fortunate. Continue reading

Beyond the Flames — Sprinkler Systems Reduce Home-Fire Injuries

Earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released data regarding home fires in 2011 and the daily averages that accompany such fires. Surprisingly, the commission found that several simple topics that have been discussed frequently in this column could have prevented many of the damages and deaths caused by fire.

The report stated that an average of 366,700 unintentional fires each year in the United States, which result in approximately 2,300 deaths, 12,500 injuries, and over $7 billion in damages each year.

Kitchen fires are the most common source of unintentional fires, with the study finding that over 147,000 of the fires began in the kitchen, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all unintentional fires. They also accounted for around 3,300 injuries, or over 25 percent of all injuries, making fires beginning in the kitchen also the most common cause of injury.

However, kitchen fires weren’t the most common cause of deaths in unintentional fires – that distinction goes to fires caused by home heating and cooling equipment, such as fireplaces and portable heaters, which were attributed to 210 of the 2,300 deaths, the most of any particular cause. The study found an average of six people die in the United States as the injuries sustained in unintentional fires each day.

All of these high injury/death characteristics have something in common – they’re all common sights during the winter and holiday season. Heaters and fireplaces are more likely to be used in the colder weather, and cooking is central to the idea of the U.S. holiday celebrations on things such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

Special care should be then when tending to your heating sources, whether that means closely monitoring your fireplace, or ensuring that your portable space heater is a safe distance from any flammable objects. When cooking, be sure to follow safe cooking instructions, and be sure that your oven, deep fryer, or other cooking device is clean and devoid of grease.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission listed several recommendations in hopes to lower the risk of unintentional fires occurring, the most prominent of these recommendations being the use of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems.

Studies showed that there were 50 percent less deaths in homes that had working smoke detectors, and up to 75 percent less in homes were smoke detectors were interconnected. You should have a smoke detector outside of each bedroom and on each level of the home. Batteries should be changed regularly, at least twice a year (when you adjust your clocks for Daylight Savings Time is a good reminder).

Sprinkler systems, the report states reduces home fire injury by nearly 50 percent, and is significantly less than acclaimed to be in cost (only about 2 percent of overall construction costs for a new home). Sprinklers are normally heat activated, and residential sprinklers are activated individually, reducing water damage to unaffected areas.

The commission encourages the implementation of mandatory residential sprinkler laws to require sprinkler systems to be installed in all new homes. Currently, over 200 U.S. communities have such laws, with nearly 100 of them coming from communities in California.

Knoll, 20, of Eldora, can be contacted by email at beyondtheflamescmc@ gmail.com. He is a student at Rowan University.