HELENA – The City of Helena Fire Department and the City Building Division are asking the public to take the time to prepare their heating systems for winter.
Helena Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Chambers has 18 years of firefighting experience and thinks the current weather conditions are ideal to inspect a chimney and check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“It’s a great time of year to do that and make sure everything is safe,” said Chambers, “And when winter comes along when it’s cold and nasty and your family is all hunkered in you’re good to go.”
Officials warn to be particularly wary of carbon monoxide (CO) which is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” by fire officials due to it being odorless, tasteless and invisible.
CO can come from any common hydrocarbon fuel such as natural gas, propane, wood, diesel and gasoline.
Neglected or improperly cleaned chimneys can build up debris in the stack that can potentially build up CO in the home or cause the house to catch fire.
Helena officials recommend having a professional check and clean your chimney each year to ensure it is properly maintained.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the majority of chimney fires go undetected but the damage they cause can lead to a much larger and more dangerous fire.
If gas is being used in the home, such as a furnace, a person should inspect their system and make sure the filters are clean.
Chambers says taking the time to preform preventative steps in your home is a big part of preventing a tragic situation.
“People also need to know that you have to have a permit to install a furnace within city limits,” said Helena Chief Building Official Jon Pallister
Pallister said that improper installation from a contractor cutting corners can cause a CO leak, which can be potentially fatal.
In the United States, over 4,000 deaths annually are attributed to CO poisoning.