Monday, November 30, 2009

Not to say I told you so...but.....

So… is now time for the inevitable post-Thanksgiving, “I Told You So”...the following sample of stories are from throughout the country and highlight the dangers of turkey fryers:

MCCOOK, Neb. (AP) — A juvenile boy was treated for possible smoke inhalation and released from a local hospital after a Thanksgiving Day fire in McCook investigators blamed on a turkey fryer. Fire officials say the heat from a turkey fryer being used inside the garage touched off the fire. The heat built up in the ceiling as two turkeys were cooked and something in the attic began to smolder. The fire spread quickly throughout the attic and into the basement after a nitrous oxide tank for a car exploded.Investigator Ryan Sylvester declined to identify the boy hurt because he is a juvenile. The house is a total loss with about $250,000 damage.One cat died as a result of the fire. Two dogs escaped with the family.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Authorities in Ohio say a turkey fryer caused a house to catch fire as the homeowner was preparing a Thanksgiving meal.
Columbus firefighters say no one was injured in the fire Thursday. They contained it to the back of the two-story house.
The turkey fryer was set up outside near the back door. Capt. Mike Zuber said a propane tank had a worn hose that caused a gas leak, sparking the blaze.
The fire spread to a nearby wood pile and a pickup truck.
The homeowner's identity wasn't immediately released. Zuber says one other family member was home at the time.
Damage was estimated at $15,000.

HUMMELS WHARF — Twenty people were just about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at the Rivera residence early Thursday evening when four fire trucks crashed the party.
The garage area of the home of Robin Welch and Carlos Rivera at 99 Creek Road was
ablaze when they rushed in.
It was about 5 p.m. Rivera had been cooking one turkey upstairs in the regular
oven and one in the garage by a propane-fueled deep fat fryer method.
He said he checked on the turkey in the garage, and everything was fine, and he
went back upstairs into the kitchen,
which was directly above the garage.
“It wasn’t 30 seconds later,” he said, “I saw smoke coming up by the window.”
Hummels Wharf Fire Chief Jeff Buckley said the garage was fully involved when they
arrived, with flames coming out of both garage doors.

Princeton, KY- Hot grease from a propane-fueled deep fryer is believed to be the cause of a blaze that destroyed two buildings and left more than 20 people homeless Wednesday.
The smoke rose in great pillaring clouds that could be seen from as far
away as the Cadiz Road exit on Interstate 24, 10 miles away.
The property is owned by Marlin Robertson, who was deep-frying a turkey in
a storage area inside the lumber company building
when the fire broke out.
Francis said water in the frozen bird converted to steam when it hit the
oil in the fryer
, causing the grease to blow out of the fryer and ignite.
A few other residents were also transported, most for smoke inhalation.
Another tenant, an adult female, was airlifted from the medical center to Western Baptist Hospital for a heart-related issue, investigators said.
Firefighters made entry into the building, set up an aerial truck and used
a piercing nozzle to try and fight back the blaze, but the building’s
composition proved resistant to those efforts.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

H1N1 Clinics

Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
We Train. We Exercise. We Do.

Several CERT folks have inquired how they can join other Fairfax County CERTs and help out with the Fairfax County Health Department H1N1 Vaccination Clinics.
The CERTs you have seen at the clinics, are also Fairfax County MRC volunteers.

In order to volunteer with the clinics, you are required to be an MRC volunteer. If you are interested in joining MRC, you can signup at

You will then need to attend MRC 101 Orientation. The next class is December 16th from 7-9pm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's that time of year again!

Yes, it's time for the annual "be careful when frying a turkey" post! Yet again I have dug into the CERT archives to dig up and beat the dead turkey I have posted for the last two years. I know it is repetitive, but bear with me.


Have you thought about how you might be cooking your Thanksgiving turkey? What the heck does this have to do with CERT, safety or anything other than a cooking class or something on the Food Network? Has Mike gone completely crazy? Has cooking with Emeril Lagasse gone to his head? Good questions all!

Over the past few years there has been a growing trend of people frying their turkeys. I have to say, fried turkey sure do taste good, this is a fact. Unfortunately, if you are novice, or even have experience frying a turkey, it is a serious and dangerous prospect.

There are many reasons a deep fryer can be dangerous. Since using the typical pedestal type turkey fryer SHOULD NEVER BE DONE INDOORS (this includes a garage or barn, even if is not entirely closed in), making sure you have the space and equipment to do this outdoors is important. Also bear in mind, the weather; if it is windy, raining or snowing, this could affect your fryer.

In order to fry your turkey you will need to get the oil in the fryer up to at least 350 degrees ...350 degrees, which, if you did not know, IS REALLY HOT! Working with an unstable product such as blazing hot oil over an open flame is dangerous, even if you know what you are doing.

Other safety issues include:
* If the burner is not on level ground, the units can easily tip over, spilling hot oil (3-5 gallons of hot oil at 350 degrees!!!) onto the burner and creating a LARGE, FAST fire.
* If the pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill over when the turkey is lowered into the pot. Oil will hit the flames on the burner and engulf the burner with fire. There are ways to measure out the right amount of oil, which is imperative to ensure you do not have the pot overfilled.
* Water and hot oil do not go together. Partially frozen turkeys contain water of course, so if you lower a partially frozen turkey into a fryer, expect an extensive fire. Heaven help you if you place a frozen turkey in the fryer; to help defrost it....this will cause an explosion as the water expands in the hot (350 degrees ) oil. DON'T do it.
* The outdoor fryers have no thermostat controls, so they can overheat quickly and cause the oil to boil over the sides of the pot before you can react.
* The pot and handles get extremely hot (remember, 350 degrees of boiling oil), posing severe burn hazards.

I am sure there is someone out there saying to themselves, "I won't let Mike yuck my yum, I am going to fry a turkey anyway". Fine, be that way. It won't be the first time someone did not listen to what I said and partially burned their house know who you are.
You still want to fry that turkey? Ok, fine. Please, bear these things in mind as you go about frying.
These are not guaranteed to stop a fire or keep you from getting burned, but they may help in mitigating a larger disaster (such as burning your house down):
* Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or inside a garage, home, or within any structure.
* Place the fryer a safe distance away from any building (bear in mind if you place it in the grass, the grass should not be overly dry, nor overly wet. Also count on the grass dying and never growing back).
* Fryers should be used on a firm, flat surface to prevent them from tipping over. Try the middle of a parking lot....not the sloping driveway in front of your house next to your car.

* Once the pot is filled with the recommended 3-5 gallons of oil (probably peanut oil) and the burner is ignited, you should never leave the fryer unattended. This also means do not cook if you are under the influence. Please, don't drink and fry.
* Keep pets inside and keep children at a safe distance. A safe distance being somewhere where they will never see it because once they do, they will want to get close.
* Use well-insulated gloves or oven mitts and wear safety glasses (I think I know where you might have a pair laying around) to guard against oil splatters.

* Do not wear loose clothing as these might ignite if you get too close to the flame or the oil, or both. If your clothes do catch on fire, remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!
*Turkeys must be thoroughly thawed. While very tasty, be very careful of injecting marinades into your turkey. The extra liquid may cause the oil to spill over.
*Keep a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher nearby. Never use a water type extinguisher to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Do not deploy the garden hose to assist with your turkey fryer fire, this will do MUCH, MUCH more harm than good.
* If your fryer does catch fire call 9-1-1 immediately!

Finally, remember the oil (3-5 gallons of it) inside the pot will remain hot for hours after your turkey has been removed. DO NOT bring it indoors and again, keep children and pets away from the pot.

For more information on some of the hazards of cooking fires (not just the turkey fryer fires), please visit the United States Fire Administration's website for a copy of: Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires by going here:

For a short demo on a fryer fire, go here:

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meet CERT # 43 !

Hi folks!
Meet the new graduates of our latest CERT basic class, CERT 43. This class was taught in the Reston area by CERT 43 lead volunteer instructor Donna E. Donna was assisted by volunteer instructor Denise H. These two did an excellent job!
Welcome to the Fairfax County CERT family, CERT 43 members! Thanks to all of you for "stepping up" to better prepare yourselves, your families and your community for disaster.
And a huge "YOU ROCK"! goes out to Donna and Denise for taking on the task of teaching!

your volunteer PIO

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet CERT 40 and CERT 41!

Hi folks,
The CERT 40 and CERT 41 classes graduated recently; welcome to the CERT family! I posted the picture of CERT 39 without realizing 40 and 41 had not had their picture posted. So, here it is!
Congratulations to ALL the new Fairfax county CERT members!

your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meet CERT 39!

Hi folks,
The first CERT basic class in the south county area finished up last night. This is the CERT 39 class, taught at the south county government center in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria.
The instructors for the class were Kevin, your victim actor coordinator and Terry, your volunteer PIO.
CERT 39 was a great class; full of motivated students wanting to make themselves, their families and their communities safer in major disasters. Three different homeowners associations made up bulk of students in the class.
Congratulations to the members of CERT 39, welcome to the Fairfax County CERT family!

your volunteer PIO

PS-and don't forget. "Semper Gumby"-always flexible!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Candle Fire Safety

With the holidays fast approaching and the increased usage of seasonal decorations, it is important to focus on candle fire safety and prevention. Because the majority of candle fires result from human error and negligence, candle fires and their associated casualties are preventable.
  • If possible, avoid using lighted candles.

  • If you must use candles, ensure they are placed in sturdy holders.

  • Keep candles away from children and pets.

  • Be sure to extinguish candles after each use.

  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
In the event of a fire, remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts!

Escape first, and then call for help. Develop a home fire escape plan and practice it frequently with your family. Designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room.

Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke, and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason: it may cost you your life.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire.

For more information:


Sunday, November 1, 2009

EMS activity for actors

On Thursday, November 5 the current EMS Academy will need actors to participate for their EMS final exam. This is an outstanding opportunity to not only help out the Fire Dept. but come away with some excellent knowledge. Located at the Fire & Rescue Academy 1730 to 2230, contact Don Melick