Our opinion: Cold days, hot fires

Saturday January 26, 2013

There must be few things more challenging for a fire department than to fight a blaze under brutally cold conditions, which was the challenge Cheshire firefighters confronted on Thursday. Unfortunately, hot fires on cold days are not unusual.

"We’re having a bad day," said state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan to the Boston Globe in reference to a string of fires around the state on Thursday. Marshall Coan was referring to fires in Cheshire, Barre, Brookline, East Boston, Lawrence, Lowell and Marblehead. While it was not clear as of Friday what triggered most of the blazes, the fire in Cheshire was evidently caused when a blow torch used to heat frozen pipes caught insulation on fire. Thanks to the quick, efficient response of firefighters, it appears that while there was considerable smoke damage it will be possible to save the house.

To avoid frozen pipes and the potentially dangerous methods of thawing them, it is recommended that homeowners keep the heat on low even when away at work or elsewhere for several hours. In contrast, space heaters should be turned off when the house is unoccupied and flammable objects should be kept away from them. Using an oven for heat is dangerous because opening the door will allow carbon monoxide into the house. Cold spells are unpleasant but they will pass, and caution on the part of homeowners will enable them, their families and their houses to make it successfully to spring.


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