Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

When the fire station has a fire, it’s appropriate for everyone to review fire safety, especially during the holidays when Christmas trees, fireplaces, and candles become part of many homes’ décor. For Station 28, near Seven Corners, the fire last weekend was quite small, caused by a malfunctioning pump on the water heater. The station’s fire alarm activated, and the firefighters on duty made short work of the flames. The appliance was temporarily repaired by the county’s Facilities Management Division. Earlier this month, a candle fire caused $100,000 damage to a home in the Sully District.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department offers some simple suggestions to make your home safer during the holiday season:

• Never leave burning candles unattended. Blow out all candles when you leave the room and when you go to bed.

• Keep all combustible materials away from open flames. This includes curtains and draperies, as well as clothing. A friend in North Springfield once had a huge fire that began when playful children tossed a sofa pillow that landed in the lit fireplace. When they tried to pull out the offending pillow, the live tree, which was a little dried out, caught fire, and destroyed the living room.

• Do not burn candles near windows or doorways, and place all candles in glass or ceramic containers that are on a flat, sturdy, non-combustible surface.

• Don’t let a candle burn all the way down. Put it out before the flame gets too close to the holder or container. One of my heirloom wooden candlesticks has a big scorch mark on it from a candle left burning on the dinner table many holidays ago. My bad!

• Never use a candle if oxygen is being used in the home. Those little flameless battery-operated candles look just like the real thing, and create a safe ambience in areas that should otherwise be off-limits.

• If you have a fireplace, have your chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary by a professional.

• Never leave a fireplace fire unattended.

• Store fireplace ashes in a study metal container with a tight-fitting lid, and place the container away from the house. A beautiful home in Parklawn was nearly destroyed a few years ago because the warm ashes were placed in the garage. The garage caught fire, flames raced toward the attic of the home, and a car parked in the garage was a total loss.

• If you take precautions, and still have a fire, get out of the house, and call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to extinguish a fire on your own, and do not go back into a burning structure! Let the fire department do their job…and let’s all have a safe and Happy Holiday!