Montreal

How to prevent fires during frigid winter weather

Montreal has seen a series of fires this week that has kept the city’s firefighters “very, very busy.”

Series of fires in Montreal has kept the city’s firefighters busy over the past few days

Firefighters are also offering valuable tips on how to prevent a winter fire in their home. (Scott Aitken )

As the bitter cold snap drags on, Montreal has seen a series of fires this week that has kept the city's firefighters busy.

The extremely cold conditions aren't helping and firefighters have been dealing with special challenges as a result, according to John Primiani, chief of operations at a fire station in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood.

Firefighters are warning people to never take drastic measures to thaw their frozen pipes. They are also offering valuable tips on how to prevent a winter fire in their home.

1. Smoke detectors on every level

Smoke detectors are the most important thing when it comes to fire prevention, Primiani said. 

Montrealers should have one on every level of their homes. 

Some of the fibres in couches and other household items are more flammable than they were 50 years ago so fires can spread more quickly, he added.

2. Don't improvise thawing your frozen pipes

A man started a fire in a residential building in Verdun on Thursday while using a blowtorch to thaw his pipes, which quickly caught fire.

Primiani urged people not to use improvised solutions to thaw their frozen pipes. 

He encouraged Montrealers to go to the city's website and follow the steps on how to unfreeze your pipes.

If that doesn't work, then he advised to call 311 to contact city workers who can come fix the problem for you.

Sometimes these workers will have to reconnect your electricity.

These aren't things someone who is untrained should be trying by themselves, he said.

Montreal's firefighters are offering valuable tips on how to prevent a winter fire in your home. (CBC)

3. Be wary of space heaters

In the intense cold, many people are using secondary heating systems to warm their homes, Primiani said.

Space heaters take up a lot of power and can overload circuits, which can lead to electrical fires.

"One of the biggest problems for the home fires is the secondary heating systems," Primiani said.

He advised people to check their circuits regularly.

Make sure your space heater is far away from the sofa, any leftover Christmas gifts, and the Christmas tree.

Before using a space heater, Primiani suggested checking if your home heating system is good enough.

"Then you wont need a secondary one," he said, encouraging people to block any cracks in the windows or doors that could let the cold come in. 

4. Christmas trees are flammable, too

If your Christmas tree is still hanging around the house, remember to keep an eye on it.

Primiani advised people to keep their space heaters far away from their evergreens and to ensure their trees always have lots of water.

He stressed the importance of turning off the lights on the tree before going to bed.

"You don't need it at night, you need it during the day, so make sure everything's unplugged," Primiani said.

With files from Kate McKenna

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