The Madison County Fire Department, located on North Center Street in Rexburg, shares two significant fire dangers in Rexburg’s student housing.
“Candles are very dangerous because people leave them burning,” said Ellis Johnston, a fireman at the department. “We’ve seen a lot of candle fires.”
Most Rexburg apartment complexes do not allow candles or open flames for this reason. Candles — especially in closed spaces, such as bathrooms — can quickly heat and catch fire to nearby objects. When left unattended, a real hazard arises.
A more significant hazard, however, is cooking. The department mentioned that cooking fires are the most common. The most dangerous cooking fires are grease fires because water makes them worse.
“The easy way to put out a grease fire is to put a lid on the pan,” Johnston said “And if it can’t be done by doing that, you probably should just walk away and let us come and put it out.”
Putting a lid on the pan takes the oxygen away from the flame, a necessity for fire.
“The big fire safety point to remember is your personal safety, and sometimes that is just getting out of the hazard rather than trying to engage in and put out the problem,” Johnston said. “Because then we might have a hazard and a rescue at the same time.”
Johnston emphasized people’s safety over anything else, so being out of the way makes it safer for both parties. His best advice is to stay on the line while waiting for the fire department to arrive.
“If you do call 911 or you have an emergency, stay with the problem to answer some questions,” Johnston said. “Gathering all the right information in detail so we know what’s going on: It gives us the best chance of getting to you quicker.”
Responders can access those in danger quicker and be better prepared to help when they know the details. The dispatchers on the line are trained to not only help responders get there quickly but help others understand what to do, no matter the circumstances.
“We do our best with what we’ve got to make sure everyone is safe,” Johnston said.