Cabin Fire Protection is in my hands
I’m a bit obsessive about smoke alarms fire extinguishers and everything related to resources for cabin fire protection. I’m about 7 miles from the firehouse at my wooden cabin. In other pages I talk about setting up internet phone service that has 911 service and UPS backup, but my mantra is ‘self-rescue’: don’t assume help is coming. That is different from home which is half a mile from the resources of both the firehouse and a tertiary care teaching hospital.
There was a fire at a camp on the other side of the lake (video here) 2016 Memorial Day weekend. You could hear something going bang at intervals, dunno if it was ammo or gas cylinders. The local Fire Company came in and then a second from about 30 miles away.
Is there anything that isn’t a fire risk in a 50 year old cabin?
I don’t totally trust any of the heaters, including the wood-stove though I do follow as many guidelines as I can and keep my propane and kerosene heating appliances clear of everything. I also try to keep propane cylinders and kerosene cans out of the stoop by the one entrance door – though they seem to keep coming back. I don’t trust the wiring either so I try to keep the load way down, except for the power saws.
I try to put cold wood stove ashes outside in a fire circle before spreading them. The local general store burnt down maybe because of too-hot ashes put in a plastic tub indoors. That was in winter and I don’t really use the wood-stove a lot, and don’t have to empty ashes from a running fire. I would get my chimney swept ‘once a year’ but what is a year when you only use the wood-stove for say 14 days out of 52 weeks (hard to say: low use may aid creosote buildup).
I had the major trees cut that might fall on the cabin, clearing an area at the camp that is fairly large by local standards, 30 to 50 ft on two sides. Adirondack zoning rules don’t allow cutting of the trees between the cabin and the lake. We aren’t likely to have major forest fires but the cleared area wouldn’t make the grade out West. At least I have a tin roof.
Planning ahead: Resources for when cabin fire prevention fails
I was in a safety seminar where they said if the fire is bigger than a breadbox then that handy dandy fire extinguisher isn’t going to do the job – so get out. This I intend to do. I’ve stored lump hammers, along with box cutters, at a couple of first and second floor windows so I have alternate exit routes in a one door cabin. That’s for the window and then the bug screen if need be. I just have to try and not borrow the tools for DIY projects. The old owners had left a First Alert fire escape ‘ladder’ upstairs. I can see how it hooks onto the wood frame but I’m aiming to reinforce the cross brace under the window that I’d be hanging it from. I’d give the escape ladder a try but I’m worried about falling, 7 miles from emergency services.
The previous owners of the camp had young kids and they were maybe even more worried than me about cabin fire protection and getting out. Looking at when they bought the place, the fire alarms they installed are well past 10 years and several have started acting up, being prone to turning on and staying on. I figure it is a built in feature, they are basically ‘bricking’ themselves at the end of their design life. Moral is that I have been buying new smoke alarms and adding more fire extinguishers, but I’m doing it gradually so not everything hits end-of-life at the same time in the next decade. My most recent smoke alarm purchases were dual detector models, it appears these look for fires multiple ways (for smoldering and fast burning fires). Mind, mostly I set the alarms off when starting the wood stove. I also added a carbon monoxide detector when I bought the kerosene stove but its not likely to be needed given the leakiness of my cabin (and my 3-season schedule). I have new Kidde Pro 210 fire extinguishers in the Kitchen, between the living room and downstairs bedroom, plus out on the glassed in veranda since I have table- and miter-saws out there. The extinguishers are ABC so they work for most type of fire.
I did stop by a web page for home firefighting pumps and I do have a lake handy as a water source. I can see the point for camp fire protection if you want to wet an area down to stop wild fires, but I’m not going to be tempted to mess with a structure fire which is my main risk. When I’m out, I’m going to stay out of my cabin, and I’m not going to buy something that might tempt me to go back in.