By: Nick Magoteaux

As a fire prevention officer of a fire department, I take fire prevention seriously. At the fire department, we can only inspect commercial buildings for fire codes, but you can do your own inspection to make sure your household is safe. Here are a few tips to make your house just a bit safer for yourself and firefighters.

  1. Do not overload electrical outlets. In commercial buildings, multi plugs are limited to ones that are only certified by Underwriters Laboratory. Multiplugs and certain surge protectors can overheat causing fires.
  2. If you use an extension cord, unplug it after every use. Same as the multiplugs, extension cords can overheat over time causing a fire.
  3. Make sure your smoke detectors have fresh batteries. Smoke detectors save lives – period! Make sure your smoke detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries. If a fire occurs, they will save your life. The more smoke detectors you have, the safer you are, but try not to put one in or around the kitchen (in case you cook, like I do).
  4. Make sure your electrical panel is clear of obstructions. Firefighters have limited vision in the smoke of a house fire. We must be able to locate and shut off the power to the house to ensure our safety. Keeping the area around the electrical panel clear and clean is an absolute help. A rule in businesses is to keep three feet of clearance around the electrical panel.
  5. In the wintertime, if you use a space heater, make sure to give them space. A rule of thumb for space heaters is put approximately five feet of surrounding clearance. If you have an older model, you may want to consider replacing it. Older space heaters do not have the mechanism to turn off if knocked over. Also, before leaving that the room with the space heater for extended periods of time, unplug the space heater. This will prevent a fire.

These may seem like small things you can do, but they will prevent a fire or help a firefighter battle your house fire (hopefully won’t get to that point). It’s always better to err on the side of caution, then having to deal with a house fire.


Nick Magoteaux has been in public safety for over 15 years. Nick has experience in law enforcement, dispatching, firefighting, and emergency medical service. Nick currently works for four different fire departments in Southwest Ohio, including the busiest fire department per capita in the state. Nick is also the founder and co-executive director of Brothers Helping Brothers, a fire service 501c3 non-profit that specializes in equipment grants to small and rural fire department in the US. Contact Nick at




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