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High fuel costs this winter mean extra challenges for firefighters

By Andrew Pollack on 09/06/2005 at 10:26 PM EDT

Here in the northeast, home heating is a big challenge. The way some of you in the south struggle to keep the electricity bills down and still keep the house cool in the summer, we fight cold all winter with home heating oil or LP gas fired furnaces. Fuel costs have been rising in recent years, and it’s been a real problem for those on fixed incomes or those out of work. Most towns have assistance programs to help pay the costs of fuel oil in winter, but it doesn’t go far.

Fuel has nearly doubled this year.

At our monthly supper and business meeting at the fire station this month, we talked a bit about what we expect to see for an impact from that. To begin with people are going to use their wood burning stoves more. Wood is expensive too, though so they may well be burning less seasoned or even softwood. Fireplaces and wood stoves long not used will get a workout – we’ll see more chimney fires than usual. As it gets later in the season and really cold, we’ll get other calls as well. Carbon Monoxide calls from portable kerosene heaters, and possibly fires from electric space heaters too close to curtains and sheets hung in doorways to keep rooms separate.

If you’re going to try to save money this winter -- be careful.

There are  - loading -  comments....

Good point to bring up...By Alex Wilson on 09/09/2005 at 02:31 PM EDT
I will make mention of this at our next meeting. Our area uses fuel oil as the
main source due to lack of natural gas around here. LP is also used a lot. My
contract rate for fuel oil this year went up $0.90 so I know many who don't
contract will get hit hard considering the price is already $0.55 above my
contract rate.

One of the things I have found around my area is lack of knowledge when it
comes to using a wood stove or fireplace. Many of the residents are transplants
from Maryland (Baltimore) townhouses. They have no clue about chimney sweeps,
let alone how to burn properly.

Of course, people will be people, no matter how smart you try to make them...
like running generators inside to prevent theft or grilling inside. Duh...

Job security for us poor volunteers!
Well, true enough -- education does help thoughBy Andrew Pollack on 09/09/2005 at 03:08 PM EDT
I've learned some surprising things since joining the fire department. One of
them that's really hit home is, "Anyone, anytime, no matter how careful."

Of course, another is -- most people keep house better than I do, but those
that don't; really really don't.

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