Watertown fire chief: ‘this time of year is tough on my guys’

wwny Watertown fire chief: ‘this time of year is tough on my guys’

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There's a cautionary message from firefighters after two intense blazes in the city of Watertown in two weeks time.

The fire Sunday on Flower Avenue East on the city's south side was caused by an occupant of the house smoking a cigarette in the basement, and that cigarette not being put out properly.

Chief Dale Herman says an increase in house fires this time of year is not out of the ordinary.

"This time of year is tough on my guys," he said.

It's a time where it's tough to brace for the elements and battle flames all at once. In two weeks, the city of Watertown has seen two intense fires.

One on North Orchard Street left 3 people injured. At the Flower Avenue East fire, everyone made it out of the house okay, but Herman says 6 people are displaced.

"Our efforts are trying to make sure people maintain their heating and cooking appliances. Be very careful with smoking. Make sure you have a working smoke detector. All these things will help impact the data and impact the losses that we have in our community," said Herman.

According to Herman, on average per year the city sees about 40 residential fires. That's about one every 9 days.

"A majority of them happen in the winter time because the most common causes of fires are heating appliances, cooking and careless smoking," he said.

With structure fires sometimes come fatalities. Herman says, in the city, 2 to 4 people die each year from causes relating to a fire.

"I encourage landlords to provide working smoke detectors so that, again, it keeps the damage minimal if a fire is discovered," said Herman.

In the case of Sunday’s fire, Herman says only one working smoke detector was found inside.

What about a free alternative to purchasing one yourself? The Red Cross can install up to 3 free smoke detectors in your home, at no cost.

"I'd need your name and your address and your phone number and we will call you and set up an appointment to come in an assess your home, install your smoke detectors and give you tips on how to prevent a home fire," said Jane Gendron, executive director, Red Cross' north country chapter.

Or it could be a gift to a loved one.

“Through the holidays, again, we want to make sure the kids have presents under the tree or whatnot but a family could certainly appreciate a working smoke detector,” said Herman.

He said firefighters have used $350,000 of the $600,000 overtime budget for the year. He also said the amount of overtime used has gone up since the summer months.

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