NEK Fires Increasing

FireDeptST. JOHNSBURY - Local fire departments have been responding to more fires than usual over the past couple of weeks. However, this is a common occurrence during the winter, since a common cause of these fires has been heating systems. St. Johnsbury Fire Chief, Troy Ruggles explained how all types of heating systems can pose some kind of danger to homeowners. 

 "All of those [furnaces] have to be maintained properly. They need to be cleaned, they need to be checked regularly to make sure that they're operating properly," Chief Ruggles said. "When any one of those is not, it increases the potential for there being a fire." Chief Ruggles suggests that if a fire was to start, residents should not try to put it out themselves, but instead, call 911 for assistance. 

A big way to help firefighters do their jobs quickly and efficiently would be for residents to dig out fire hydrants in front of their homes. With the amount of snow that has been hitting the Northeast Kingdom, firefighters are having trouble accessing the hydrants. In recent cases, firefighters have had to waste time digging out the hydrants before being able to put out the fires.  St. Johnsbury firefighter, Andrew Ruggles, says that "it would save [us] a step because every second counts."

Firefighters are seeking assistance because time is limited when fighting fires and taking the time to dig out a hydrant could lead to the fire getting out of control. "If you have a hydrant in your neighborhood," Ruggles said, "shovel it out so it's accessible from the road for us to connect the hose to in case of a fire."