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Residential Fire Safety

Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus

Until late March of this year, eating out was a way of life for many people. In fact, the average American was eating out 5.9 times a week; that included everything from a quick lunch from the nearest drive-thru to a more leisurely meal at an elegant restaurant. But, at least for the time being, the days of frequenting restaurants for most meals is in the rearview mirror. As most Americans are forced to stay home during the pandemic, they’re changing routines — and that includes cooking at home more often.

While this time offers a great opportunity for people to sharpen their cooking skills, it also is causing an uptick in a deadly trend: People are accidentally setting their kitchens on fire at a rather alarming pace. Fire departments in Virginia, California, Florida, New York, Maryland and Michigan are among those that have reported more house fires. And, more specifically, kitchen fires.

The problem is significant enough that it prompted the National Fire Protection Association to ask people to exercise more caution in the kitchen.

“As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA. Cooking is already recognized as the leading cause of home fires, accounting for nearly half of all home fires. Among cooking fires, unattended or distracted cooking is the biggest threat.

At a time when social distancing is recommended, if not mandated, a single kitchen fire could prove disastrous for tenants and building managers alike. As one fire marshal pointed out in an article on Vice.com, “This is not the time to have a fire in your home. Where are you going to go?”

Providing tenants with some basic cooking safety tips and reminding them of specific dangers in the kitchen could go a long way toward keeping everyone in your building safe during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cooking Safety Tips for Beginners

Some tenants may know very little about cooking, particularly if it’s their first time to live on their own. Start by giving basic tips for keeping the kitchen safe, which include:

  • Don’t store anything in the oven. It may seem like a great out-of-the-way place to store a loaf of bread or extra hot pads and kitchen towels, but if someone forgets (or doesn’t know) they’re in there, and turns the oven on, it could cause a fire.
  • Keep pets and kids out of the kitchen when cooking. Not only can they be a huge distraction, but they can also cause accidents that can lead to burns and fires. The NFPA recommends keeping kids and pets at least three feet away from an active stove.
  • Make sure flammable items are far away from the stovetop. Having that roll of paper towels next to the stove sure is handy for spills — and it’s also a quick way to ignite a kitchen. Other things to watch out for include oven mitts, curtains, wooden utensils and hand towels. If it can ignite, get it away from the stove.

Teaching Tenants About Cooking Safety

In addition to ensuring their kitchens are set up for safe cooking, tenants need to understand the basic features of their cooking appliances. For example, if you have gas stoves in your units, don’t assume that everyone is familiar with how to cook with gas or how to set the proper flame. Although the NFPA reports that electric stoves are 2.5 times more likely than gas stoves to have a fire, gas stoves can be dangerous if a pilot doesn’t light and the gas is left on, even for a second or two.

Make sure that the dials are readable, that there aren’t any leaks or worn parts on gas stoves and that tenants know how to operate their equipment. Then, provide safe cooking suggestions including:

  • Never cook while drowsy or under the influence of alcohol.
  • Do not leave an active stovetop unattended, not even for “just a minute.” This is one of the main causes of cooking fires, and it can happen in a matter of seconds.
  • Clean all grease splatters and drips out of your oven immediately, as these can catch fire the next time the oven is ignited.
  • Pay special attention to grease, oils and fats when cooking. The hotter they get, the more dangerous they are, and they’re a leading cause of stovetop fires.
  • Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing when cooking, as it can catch on fire. (The same goes for long hair; make sure it’s tied back.) Although this happens in less than 1% of cooking fires, it is particularly dangerous and accounts for 14% of home cooking fire deaths.

How to Handle Cooking Fires

Finally, tenants need to know what they should do if a cooking fire occurs. Of course, every unit should have multiple smoke detectors, and every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher.

It’s also a great idea to educate residents on the best way to react to a stovetop fire. Advise tenants to always cook with the lid of the pan they are using nearby. If there’s a fire in the pan, an effective way to put it out is to cover the pan, which cuts off oxygen to the flame. There are things they shouldn’t do, too, such as pouring water on the flame or trying to move the flaming pot to the sink or outside.

The problem with these solutions is that they depend on an individual being present, alert and calm. They must know how to properly use a fire extinguisher and also must know when the fire is too big for them to use an extinguisher.

A better way to suppress a fire on the stove is to use a product from StoveTop FireStop.When mounted above a stove, the canister will automatically activate when there is direct, sustained contact from a flame with the fuse on the bottom of the canister. As soon as that happens, the canister releases a fine, dry powder over the flames that safely suppresses the fire. As it activates, the canister makes a loud “pop” sound to alert your tenant. Immediately after activation, when it is safe, he or she can shut off the stove’s burner to keep the fire from reigniting. For more product information see StoveTopFireStop.com.

The last thing tenants — and landlords — need to deal with right now is a cooking fire, but unfortunately, they are increasingly common with more people cooking at home. A little education and taking the proper precautions can ensure that your building and all of its residents stay safe.

WilliamsRDM’s COVID-19 Response

WilliamsRDM & StoveTop FireStop Statement on (COVID-19), Coronavirus.

We are continuing to monitor and update this page daily. Last updated: 3/24/2020

[UPDATE: March 24, 2020] 

In light of the new Shelter in Place order going into effect at 11:59PM, March 24th in Fort Worth, Tarrant County and is already in place for Dallas County, WilliamsRDM has made the decision to allow those employees currently set up to work from home to begin doing so effective tomorrow, March 25, 2020 through the end of the current order, April 3, 2020. The goal of allowing certain employees to work from home is to reduce the number of employees physically in the building and therefore trying to lower the potential exposure risk. Those who continue to work in the facility, will be required to follow the guidelines for social distancing and hygiene.

WilliamsRDM is an essential employer and as such we have a responsibility to maintain operations.  While this is an uncertain time for our country, we are fortunate that we can continue to keep our doors open, our employees working, and our product lines running.

Please know we value each of you and our goal is to continue to provide a safe working environment while ensuring business continuity that will thrive past this pandemic.

Thank you for continuing to choose StoveTop FireStop and WilliamsRDM.

Della Williams
President & CEO


[March 20, 2020]

I wanted to take this opportunity to share with our WilliamsRDM community at-large the extra precautions WilliamsRDM & StoveTop® FireStop are taking to keep our employees, customers, and vendors safe, while continuing to keep our facility open to receive orders, and manufacture and ship products with confidence. 

WilliamsRDM & StoveTop FireStop are following the guidelines set by The Office of Governor of the State of Texas, Greg AbbottThe Office of Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In response to the (COVID-19) outbreak, we have taken proactive measures for the safety of our employees, customers and vendors. As a manufacturer, working remotely is not always a viable solution for all of our employees. We will, until further notice, continue with regular production hours and accept visitors only as absolutely necessary Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CDT.

We are encouraging everyone to exercise ‘social distancing’ while in our facility as much as possible. We have placed disinfecting wipes throughout our facility and encouraged employees to frequently clean surfaces in their work areas and wash their hands. If any employees are sick, we encourage them to stay home.

When possible, we will offer to communicate with customers and vendors via remote audio/video conferencing.The health and safety of our employees, customers and vendors is our main priority during this uncertain time. With that added focus, we are doing everything we can to meet our agreed delivery schedules.

Due to the elevated risks of the COVID-19 virus to WilliamsRDM & Stovetop FireStop community at-large, I have instituted the following policies and procedures:

  1. Prohibiting all non-essential business travel until further notice. 
  2. Suspending all-public meetings and trade shows appearances until further notice. 
  3. Reinforcing the need to follow local authorities’ guidelines and recommendations.
  4. Encouraging employees, vendors, and customers who are sick to please stay home. 
  5. Recommending WilliamsRDM & StoveTop FireStop contractors and vendors who are not feeling well to stay home to prevent the spread of germs. 

Regarding the handling of mail, packages, and deliveries:

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have advised that the risk for transmission of the virus via packages is minimal, and we in normal practice have very few shipments from overseas.

There is no denying that COVID-19 has had an impact on our communities. Rest assured, WilliamRDM and StoveTop FireStop remain in close contact with governmental health agencies and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and are taking the proper precautions as this situation evolves.

We remain committed to delivering product in a safe and effective manner. If you have any questions, please contact us at sales@stfs.com.

Thank you for being our loyal member of our team and for your trust in WilliamsRDM & StoveTop FireStop,

Della Williams
President & CEO
Manufacturer of Stovetop FireStop

What Is the Best Option for Residential Fire Suppression?

When it comes to protecting the property you own or manage, minimizing the risk of damage from fire is one of the most important things you can do. Every year, fires unexpectedly destroy homes and lives, and many of them are completely preventable.

Between 2013 and 2017, cooking emerged as the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. In fact, nearly 74% of all apartment fires start in the kitchen and are directly related to cooking, according to The National Fire Incident Reporting System. As a manager, you can check all the boxes to make sure that your tenants are prepared, such as verifying smoke alarms are working to alert residents of a fire and that everyone has an escape plan in place in the event of a fire. But what’s more important is to be able to contain the fire and keep it from getting big enough to spread and cause significant damage.

Fires that are confined to a specific item, such as a fireplace or a cooking pan, aren’t normally responsible for significant property loss from flame damage, and they rarely result in serious injury, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Of course, such fires can still result in the loss of contents within the building due to damage from smoke, fire, and water, but the amount of damage will be much less than if the fire is non-confined. In non-confined fires, the flames begin to spread and cause damage throughout the apartment unit or home. In the worst cases, they also spread to other units or even to nearby buildings.

Making sure rental homes and apartments have the proper tools for suppressing a fire when it breaks out is crucial to safety. While that’s important for every room in the home, nowhere is that more important than in the kitchen. Let’s look at four ways to put out kitchen fires before they get out of control.

No. 1: Use a fire extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is an essential piece of equipment that should be in every kitchen. Make sure that every apartment or rental unit is equipped with the right type of fire extinguisher and, just as importantly, make sure that residents know how to use it.

Fire extinguishers come in different classes and are designed to put out different types of fires. For kitchen grease fires, a Class B extinguisher, which is designed to be used on flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil, or a Class K extinguisher, which is specifically for cooking oils and animal fats, will be effective.

A multipurpose extinguisher, such as an A-B, B-C or A-B-C extinguisher, is another option to allow tenants to use it for more than one purpose. Reviewing how to use a fire extinguisher properly is also important, since improper use of fire extinguishers can not only result in the fire not being extinguished but can lead to respiratory distress and even cardiac arrest.

No. 2: Cut off oxygen to the flame

It’s important to note that fighting a grease fire isn’t like fighting other types of fires; it should never be doused with water, as that can make the situation much worse.

However, a grease fire can’t continue to burn without oxygen, so putting a lid on a flaming pan is a quick and effective way to suppress a fire on the stove. To qualify that option, it’s important that the fire is still contained to the pan and is small enough for the resident to safely put a lid over it.

If there’s no lid available, a second, larger pot, pan or even a cooking sheet can be put over the flame. Of course, all of this requires the resident to respond very quickly, since fires can grow rapidly and get out of control in just a few minutes.

No. 3: Eliminate the heat source

If the fire has just started and is still small, turning off the burner can sometimes be enough to put it out. However, it’s important that residents know they should never try moving a flaming pan off the heat source, since that can cause liquids in the pan to splash and cause a bigger fire.

No. 4: Use StoveTop FireStop’s Rangehood

The most dependable way to suppress a fire on the stove quickly and safely is to use the Rangehood by StoveTop FireStop. This canister, which is mounted above a stove, activates when a direct, sustained flame comes in contact with the fuse on the bottom of the canister.

When activated, the canister makes a loud “pop” sound that will alert the resident and releases a fine, dry powder over the flames that suppresses the fire. Once the fire is suppressed, the resident can shut off the stove’s burner to prevent the fire from reigniting.

Why You Need a More Dependable Solution

While all of the above methods are effective for putting out grease fires on a stove, three of them depend on someone being near the stove when the fire breaks out and having the knowledge and presence of mind to take the right action. Unfortunately, statistics show that’s often not the case.

Unattended cooking equipment is the No. 1 cause of cooking fires and deaths, accounting for nearly one-third of deadly kitchen fires overall. Leaving the stove unattended, even for “just a minute” can have disastrous results. Nobody plans for a kitchen fire to happen, but they still continue to pose a threat to tenant safety. StoveTop FireStop provides around-the-clock monitoring to ensure that any fire occurring on the stove will be suppressed quickly and safely.

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