“In the last year or so we have had a couple of residents, not necessarily here but in our district, citizens have had grease fires on their stove and they did the wrong thing. That is they reacted poorly,” said Sparks FD fire apparatus operator Manny Souza. “We’re trying to demonstrate the right way to deal with a grease kitchen fire and to increase their safety. One man burned his hand severely and we had one woman who burned up her kitchen because she put water on a grease fire.”
Souza, donning full fire-protection gear, then showed about two dozen residents exactly what happens when they throw water on a fire fueled by hot grease. Standing under a warm noon sun, Souza lit a propane burner under a metal container full of hot grease and, using a cup at the end of a long metal hook, poured just a few ounces of water on the fire inside.
The result was a tower of flame about 15 feet high that threw heat about 30 yards.
“That’s the most dangerous mistake” people make when a grease fire occurs, Souza said.
Throwing water on a grease fire vaporizes the fuel, Souza said, and blasts it up into the air where it then hits the ceiling and rolls around, potentially setting many other things on fire.
Illustrating another scenario, Souza put a small pan of grease over a hot propane flame to show how it can ignite. He then took a similar small pan full of water to show the seniors how the liquid grease will splash around as they make another common mistake by grabbing the pan and trying to throw it in a sink or take it outside.
Souza said there is more than one way to properly extinguish such a fire, but he demonstrated the simplest: putting a lid over the pan that is on fire to deprive it of oxygen so it will go out.
Once the lid is on the pan, Souza said, the next step is to turn off the stove, let the pan cool down and call 9-1-1.
“That’s all you have to do, it’s very simple,” Souza said. “Don’t try to take the flaming pan outside. If you take the flaming pan outside, as you walk forward the smoke is going to get in your face, you’re going to spill it and spread the flame throughout the house or you’re going to slosh it onto your hands and burn yourself.”
For more information about fire prevention and safety, visit www.sparksfire.com and click on “Prevention” or call 741-9948.