Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Kitchen Fires

  • Published
  • By Pacfic Air Forces fire chief
  • HQ Pacific Air Forces
Fire Prevention Week is observed nation-wide, as well as Pacific Air Forces, from Oct. 6-12.

We all have busy schedules and many demands on our time. When cooking, these various demands can collide. How often have you been interrupted by a child, a pet or something else while cooking and had to step away from the stove for only a minute only to be startled when the smoke detector went off?

Kitchen fires happen quickly; very quickly according to Chief Master Sgt. Glen Paveglio, Pacific Air Forces fire chief. "I believe after almost every kitchen fire I have fought in my career, the resident always says something to the effect of 'I only stepped away for a minute.' It is truly amazing how fast a cooking fire can spread."

According to the latest the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Two of every five home fires begin in the kitchen -- more than any other place in the home. These numbers hold true for PACAF as well.

Most kitchen fires are the result of unattended cooking and last year, sixty Airmen living in base housing were affected by kitchen fires. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or deaths; however, these fires caused $45,000 worth of damage to homes and personal belongings in PACAF.

This is why PACAF is joining forces with NFPA and thousands of other fire departments across North America to commemorate Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12. The theme "Prevent Kitchen Fires" reminds us that leaving cooking unattended and other unsafe kitchen practices are a recipe for disaster.

A few key points to remember:
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the room even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • When you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.
  • Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. If in doubt, get out of the home and call the fire department
  • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, do not remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.
  • If an oven fire starts, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.
  • For additional information on NFPA's Fire Prevention Week visit: http://www.firepreventionweek.org
A cooking fire can quickly turn deadly. I have seen too many homes destroyed and people killed or injured by fires that could have been easily avoided. Please heed these simple safety rules. We firefighters would like to be in your kitchen, but only when you invite us for dinner!