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Norwalk's new fire chief urges residents to be conscious of heating safety

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:47 PM

Norwalk Fire Chief Doug Coletta is warning residents to stay safe while trying to stay warm during the winter season.

"The No. 1 thing is (having) a working smoke detector," he said.

Coletta said residents need to realize that space and kerosene heaters as well as small wood burning stoves, considered "supplemental heat," are "just that."

"Supplemental heat is not meant to heat the entire house," the chief said, urging citizens to check the manufacturer's suggestions on how much square footage each unit can heat.

"You go by what the manufacturer says. You have to say that because they're all different," Coletta added.

Early this morning in the 400 block of U.S. 250, six Norwalk firefighters plus members of the Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a structure fire in which a wood burner stove was being vented into an exterior chimney, Capt. Tom Frey wrote in his report.

Firefighters were dispatched at 5:34 a.m. and were at the scene in 12 minutes, Frey wrote.

Coletta was unsure how the blaze started, but said it appeared to begin where the chimney met the wood frame of the house. Firefighters had to take out some of the siding as well as an interior wall because the fire, which caused an estimated $5,000 worth of damage, went into a "hidden void," Coletta explained.

The fire remains under investigation.

When using supplemental heating units, residents need to keep flammable items such as drapes and bedding from being too close to the heater.

"It needs to be at least 3 feet away from any combustible material or whatever the manufacturer says," Coletta said.

It's not unusual for residents to use candles for extra heat during the cold winter months. However, Coletta said candle safety has become such an important issue it was one of the focuses of Fire Prevention Week in October.

"Candles are all right as long as you keep an eye on them," he added, and keep children away from them.

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