Fire Safety Gathering in Flatbush

FDNY Lt. Anthony Mancuso displays a fire extinguisher as part of home fire-prevention plans.
FDNY Lt. Anthony Mancuso displays a fire extinguisher as part of home fire-prevention plans.

More than 300 men and women turned out at for a fire-safety discussion and question-and-answer session on Monday evening.

At the event at Congregation Shaare Zion on Ocean Parkway — organized by city councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger — Lt. Anthony Mancuso, the FDNY’s director of fire education, presented a room-by-room outline of do’s and don’ts to prevent house fires.

Smoke detectors are key to preventing tragedies, Lt. Mancuso said, “There should be one at every level of the house.”

Underscoring the point, 250 smoke detectors — funded by Renewal and the Morris I. Franco Cancer Center — were handed out for free at the session.

The lieutenant’s other suggestions included:

– Have a fire-exit plan in place, and practice it with your family. “Some parents say, ‘Oh, my children get fire drills in school,’” the lieutenant said. It’s entirely different — those drills are for school, not at home.”

– Keep a three-foot-radius “child-free zone” around the stove/blech.

– Stay in the kitchen when cooking.

– Keep towels, oven mitts and potholders, paper products and all other items that could easily catch fire away from the stove area.

– Keep all pots and pans holding hot food covered. (“In my grandmother’s house you would never find a pot and lid that matched, but they were always covered,” Lt. Mancuso said.)

– Keep handy a container of baking soda — the non-toxic substance which has had an endless variety of uses for more than a century is very effective for quickly putting out grease fires, Lt. Mancuso said. “Don’t use water on a grease fire,” he said. “The burning grease stays on top of the water and only spreads.”

– Don’t use power strips or extension cords for any heating appliances such as hot plates or toasters. Plug them directly into the outlet.

– A working smoke detector should be placed in all sleeping areas — preferably one for each bedroom About 97 percent of homes in the U.S. have smoke detectors, the FDNY says, but more than a third of them are not working, mainly because the battery is dead or missing. As of last April, new and replacement detectors are required to have a sealed, non-removable battery designed to last for 10 years.

– All electrical appliances, including detectors, should carry the UL label, meaning that it has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratory complying with federal fire-safety standards.

– Make sure all candles are secure in their holders, and not placed near curtains, clothing, paper or other flammable materials. Don’t leave lit candles unattended, and keep young children away from them. Use flame-protective coverings if you can.

– In searching for chametz, keep candles away from mattresses, curtains and the like. Closely supervise children if they’re using any candles.

Lt. Mancuso recommended that carbon-dioxide detectors be used as well, either in combo units with smoke detectors or individually.

After the session, dozens of people crowded around Lt. Mancuso to ask questions about particular fire-prevention issues in their homes.

Councilman Greenfield told Hamodia that it was imperative to have this event in the aftermath of the Flatbush tragedy which “has shaken our entire community.”

“I was glad to see the turnout we had,” he said. “Hopefully, with Hashem’s help, we can prevent such tragedies in the future.”