What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas you can not see, taste, or smell.  It is created when fuels such as kerosene, gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane burn incompletely.  Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage or near a window or door can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide which could be deadly.

What is the danger?

CO enters your body as you breathe.  CO poisoning can be confused with the flu, food poisoning, and other illnesses.  Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, and shortness of breath.  Extremely high levels of CO can cause death within minutes.  A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a long period of time or by a large amount of CO over a short period of time. 

CO alarms in the home

Install CO alarms outside of sleeping areas and where recommended by manufactures.  Know the difference between smoke alarms and CO alarms.  Replace batteries in CO alarms twice a year and test once a month.  Most CO alarms have shorter life periods than smoke detectors and should be replaced according to manufacturers recommendations. 

If the CO alarm sounds...

Move outdoors or by an open window or door.  Account for everyone in the home.  Call 9-1-1 from a fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive. 

Reducing the carbon monoxide risk

Have all fuel burning home equipment inspected by a professional every year.  Keep dryer, stove, furnace, and fireplace vents clear of ice, snow, dirt, leaves, and other debris.  NEVER use the oven to heat your home.  Only use BBQ grills and generators outside, away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.  NEVER use them in the home or garage or near building openings






 The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued Emergency Order Number 2013-002 mandating a recall of all cylinders manufactured by The Lite Cylinder Company, Inc. (Lite Cylinder), Franklin, Tennessee, and marked as authorized under DOT-SP 14562 (and DOT-SP-13957 as authorized therein), DOT-SP 13105; any cylinder requalified under H706, and any cylinders manufactured under M5729.  This recall order also applies to any person who is in possession of an affected cylinder that is subject to this order.  This action immediately orders the removal from service of more than 55,000 two-piece fully wrapped fiber composite cylinders.  These cylinders are largely in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) service.The Lite Cylinder is a see-through propane tank constructed of composite fiberglass that permits the user to view the fuel level, eliminating the need for gauges.  It can be used for gas grills, patio lighting and heaters, boating, camping, and industrial uses on machinery such as forklifts; basically as a replacement for conventional steel cylinders. 

The emergency order is based on an investigation of Lite Cylinder’s operations and production history that revealed unsafe conditions and practices that PHMSA determined to present an imminent hazard to public safety.  Additionally, there have been several failures of these cylinders ranging from leaks to failures that have resulted in injuries and damage to property.  One such failure occurred in New Jersey in 2012.

These cylinders are commercially available in home centers, hardware stores, propane filling stations, and even at on-line outlets such as


 Take proper safeguards in identifying and handling the affected cylinders identified in this order.  Use the instructions and information provided by Lite Cylinder for the safe handling and discharge of hazardous materials and for the return shipment of cylinders.  This information will guide cylinder owners to use only qualified persons, trained in handling cylinders in accordance with Federal regulations, and to safely discharge, purge, and remove the valve from the cylinder.  Return the purged and empty cylinders to the manufacturer at the following address: The Lite Cylinder Company, 139 Southeast Parkway Court, Franklin, TN 37064.

Fire department personnel should be aware and particularly cautious when responding to incidents that may involve these cylinders as they may pose greater hazards than conventional steel cylinders; especially if impinged upon by open flame.  As with all incidents, appropriate PPE must be utilized by all responders.

The full recall order can be found at: Emergency_Recall_Order_The_Lite_Cylinder_Company_Inc.pdf 

If you have any questions concerning this recall you should contact:  John Heneghan, Regional Director (404) 832-1140 233 Peachtree Street, Suite 602, Atlanta, GA 30303;   or   Aaron Mitchell, Director Field Services Support,  (202) 366-4455 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC 20590.





State Law Prohibits Every Firework Type

State Law Prohibits Every Firework Type Except Caps

The Washington Township Fire District would like to pass along an informative message from the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Office of Safety Compliance:

Once again, we are entering the fireworks season and we would like to acquaint you with New Jersey's Fireworks Laws.

New Jersey's laws on fireworks, N.J.S.A. 21:2-1 et seq. and N.J.S.A. 21:3-1 et seq., are very restrictive. In some states, fireworks are permitted to be sold to, and used by, the public. However, in New Jersey, only paper or plastic caps for use in toy guns are legal.

Sparkler and novelty items, such as cigarette loads, trick matches, trick noise makers, smoke grenades, toy propellants, snaps & pops, poppetts and champagne poppers, as well as firecrackers, roman candles, rockets, etc., are all illegal in this state. Do not be fooled by a salesperson who tries to tell you that they are authorized to be sold by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, or are sold by mail order houses, or are permitted to be sold in other states, or are permitted to be shipped by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

To repeat - the only fireworks that can legally be sold and used in New Jersey are paper and plastic caps for toy cap guns

The Fireworks Laws are jointly enforced by municipalities and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The law states that the sale or possession of fireworks, with intent to sell, is a crime of the fourth degree. Any person found guilty of possessing fireworks, including sparklers, with the intention of selling them, can be fined up to $7,500 and/or imprisoned up to 18 months. Any person found using fireworks illegally can be fined up to $500 and/or imprisoned for up to 30 days.






Summer Fire Safety

Safety tips for grilling and campfires

Every year Americans look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, picnics, and the Fourth of July.

Summertime, however, also brings fires and injuries due to outdoor cooking and recreational fires.  Annually, there are almost 3,800 Americans injured by gas or charcoal grill fires.

Summertime should be a time of fun and making happy memories.  Knowing a few fire safety tips and following safety instructions will help everyone have a safe summer.

Residential Grill Fire Facts

  • An estimated 5,700 grill fires occur on residential properties each year in the United States.
  • Almost half (49 percent) of grill fires on residential properties occur from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Over half (57 percent) of grill fires on residential properties occur in the 4 months of May, June, July and August
  • Thirty-two percent of grill fires on residential properties start on patios, terraces, screened-in porches or courtyards.
Place your grill a safe distance from play areas and keep children away from the grill area by declaring a three-foot “Safe Zone”.

Grill Safety

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors.  If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot “Safe Zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.  A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.

    If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
  • Turn off the propane tank and grill. 
  • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.  Do not attempt to move the grill.
All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD).  OPDs shut off the flow of  propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.

  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory.  Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages.  If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

Fire Pits

In recent years, there has been a new concern for the Fire Service – fire pits.  Fire pits are known to be a great source of warmth and ambience.  But, with the popularity of fire pits increasing, fire safety has become even more important.  There are many things you should consider while setting up and using a fire pit.

  • Keep away from flammable material and fluids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid or vehicles while in use.
  • Do not use flammable fluids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid to light or relight fires.
    Exercise the same precautions you would with an open fire.
    Do not allow children to use the fire pit. Keep children and pets away.
  • Do not wear flammable or loose fitting clothing such as nylon.
  • Do not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard, or plywood. Avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar that likely pop and throw sparks. Use of seasoned hardwood is suggested.
  • Before starting the fire, make sure that the lid will still close to extinguish the fire in case of emergency. Do not overload.
  • Before you light the fire, check the wind direction.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.

First Aid for Burns

For minor burns, take the following action:

  • Cool the burn. Hold the burned area under cool (not cold) running water for 10 or 15 minutes or until the pain subsides. If this is impractical, immerse the burn in cool water or cool it with cold compresses. Cooling the burn reduces swelling by conducting heat away from the skin. Don't put ice on the burn.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Don't use fluffy cotton, or other material that may get lint in the wound. Wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the burn reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin.
Talk to a doctor if you have concerns.

How To Pick Your Spot

  • DO NOT build a fire at a site in hazardous, dry conditions.
  • DO NOT build a fire if the campground, area, or event rules prohibit campfires.
  • FIND OUT if the campground has an existing fire ring or fire pit.
  • If there is not an existing fire pit, and pits are allowed, look for a site that is at least fifteen feet away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead.

Extinguishing Your Campfire

When you’re ready to put out your fire and call it a night, follow these guidelines:

  • Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
  • Pour lots of water on the fire; drown all embers, not just the red ones.
  • Pour until hissing sound stops.
  • Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
  • Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers.
  • Stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch.
  • If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. REMEMBER: do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.
REMEMBER: If it is too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave!

Have a Happy and Safe Summer!

From Your Friends at The Washington Township Fire Department





Cleaning Stovepipes and Chimneys

Cleaning Stovepipes and Chimneys

With ever-increasing fuel costs, heating with wood has again become very popular. But this increased use of wood-heating equipment brings with it the need for constant, careful attention to assure the safe and efficient use of this heat source. One area often ignored is the special care needed for the chimney.

Chimney fires Creosote accumulation is the main reason for cleaning a chimney. If the buildup of creosote on the chimney's inside surface ignites, a chimney fire results. Chimneys need cleaning to prevent this buildup and thus reduce the possibility of a chimney fire.

The extremely high temperatures (up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) of a chimney fire can damage the chimney. The heat can warp metal chimneys and crack the tile liner on masonry chimneys.

Never use water on an extremely hot chimney fire, since this quick cooling can also crack the tile liner or warp the metal chimney. After the fire has been extinguished, have the chimney checked for warped metal or a cracked tile liner.

If you don't repair cracks or holes in the flue, the next chimney fire could be even more dangerous. Even during normal use, the sparks generated by the fire in the stove could go through the cracks or holes into the attic or the framework surrounding the chimney. This could cause a serious house fire, resulting in loss of property and possibly loss of life.

To avoid this tragedy, you need to establish a cleaning schedule that will free your chimney of creosote buildup. This schedule can range from once every couple of weeks to no less than once a year. How often you clean the chimney depends on the amount you use your stove, the type of wood you burn, the type of wood-burning unit you have and the way you operate the unit.

If, however, a chimney fire occurs, follow these steps to reduce your losses:

  • Call your local fire department immediately and give them your name and address.
  • If there is a fire in the stove or fireplace box, extinguish it with a multipurpose dry-chemical extinguisher. As some of the chemical travels up the chimney, it may extinguish the chimney fire.
Cleaning the flue You can either clean the chimney yourself or hire a professional chimney sweep. Chimney sweeps who will do a thorough and professional job are available in many communities. Watching a sweep clean your chimney would not only be educational, but would also help you decide whether or not to tackle the job yourself next time.

Before deciding to clean your chimney yourself, consider your physical condition. Cleaning a chimney can be strenuous work. Pulling a chimney brush the height of the chimney can strain the back and other muscles. Make sure you are up to the job before starting.

If you do decide to clean your chimney yourself, make these preparations before beginning the actual cleaning job.

  • Gather the basic tools that you will need.
    • Powerful flashlight
    • Drop cloths
    • Wide masking or duct tape
    • Ladder
    • Mirror (helpful for looking up the chimney from the bottom)
    • Bucket
    • Industrial-type shop vacuum (Don't use a household vacuum cleaner because the fine dust can ruin the motor's bearings; also, some of the dust can go through the vacuum cleaner's filter into the room.)
    • Goggles or a face shield
    • Dust mask
    • Old clothes and gloves
  • Make sure the chimney is structurally safe. If it is not, it can fall apart when a horizontal load such as a ladder or your weight leans against it.
  • If you are cleaning a fireplace chimney, take the damper plate out; it is usually attached to its support by a couple of cotter pins. Be careful — the metal can be brittle because of exposure to extreme heat.
  • Using a powerful flashlight, check the openings from the top and bottom for obstructions such as bird's nests. Also, check the extent of creosote buildup. The largest concentration of creosote should be in the upper one-third of the chimney.
  • Seal off the fireplace opening by taping a damp sheet over it; otherwise you could end up with quite a mess in the house. On a wood-burning stove, remove the stovepipe from the chimney and cover the opening. On many chimneys, you will have an outside bottom clean-out. Make sure you can open it before you start cleaning.
Now you are ready to start cleaning the chimney. The best time to clean is when the chimney is still warm, since creosote comes off a warm surface easier than a cooler surface. But make sure the fire is completely out.

The following are some of the more common methods for cleaning chimneys:

  • Wire chimney brush
    The best method for cleaning your chimney is scraping it with a wire chimney brush. The brush may seem expensive, but for people who burn a lot of wood and must clean their chimney more than once a year, a brush gives the best results.
    You can buy brushes from most retail outlets that sell wood-burning stoves or fireplace equipment. Brushes are available in different sizes depending upon the shape and size of your flue. Buy a brush designed to fit your flue.
    Some brushes have a rope attached to one end to pull the brush up and down the chimney. For this type of brush, attach a weight of some kind to the other end to pull the brush down the chimney. Wrap cloth around the weight so it doesn't damage the chimney if the weight bounces against the inside surface.
  • Other techniques
    There are other techniques you can use with some degree of success, such as scraping the chimney with a burlap bag filled with straw or tire chains, chicken wire rolled into a ball, etc. The main disadvantages of these alternatives is that they are not able to provide enough abrasion to clean all the creosote out of the flue.
  • System management
    Another cleaning technique that deserves careful consideration is system management. You can eliminate much of the creosote buildup with correct operation of the system. Burning well-seasoned wood cuts down on creosote buildup.
    If you own one of the new "high efficiency" stoves, you may face special problems. These stoves increase heating efficiency by allowing less heat to escape through the flue. This results in lower metal temperatures in the flue. Since creosote condenses more easily on cooler surfaces than on extremely hot surfaces, this type of stove is particularly prone to creosote buildup. To solve the problem, burn an intense fire in your stove for at least one-half hour daily with the damper open. This should burn off the accumulated creosote in small quantities and reduce the potential for a chimney fire.
    Keep in mind that you also need to clean smoke pipes used with wood-burning furnaces and stoves. Remove the pipe carefully and take it outside where it will be easier to clean. Tape a bag or place a bucket at one end of the pipe to collect the creosote for disposal. A long-handled wire brush will normally clean most of the creosote buildup off the stovepipe.
Clean up time Now that the chimney is clean, it's time to go back inside the house to clean up the soot and creosote that has fallen to the bottom of the chimney. If you are cleaning a fireplace, carefully remove the seal from the fireplace opening and sweep the soot and creosote into containers. Make sure you sweep out the accumulation on the smoke shelf above the damper, too. It is better to use an industrial or shop vacuum cleaner for this job. After this initial cleanup, use a wire brush to scrape off the deposits from the inside of the fireplace and from around the smoke shelf. Tidy up the area, and you're finished.

Remember, chimney fires are very dangerous and are a major cause of wood-burning related house fires. The more you do to keep your chimney in good working condition, the safer and more efficient your wood-burning operation will be.





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