May 29, 2024
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May 29, 2024
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Local Fire Prevention Specialist and Alarm Expert Jeffrey Zwirn Weighs In On Holiday Fire Safety

This year, the holiday season coincides with the upcoming national holiday, Fire Safety Month (October). As we approach the Jewish holidays, it is imperative that every family keep in mind the disaster in Brooklyn earlier this year that killed seven children on Shabbat, which was started by a hot plate used to warm food, and think about fire prevention and safety as we prepare our homes for hosting.

Jeffrey Zwirn, President of Intruder Detection System (IDS) in Tenafly ( has been in business for over 40 years, designing, installing, maintaining and monitoring security systems, and is a nationally recognized expert in alarms and fire prevention. According to his research 80 percent of homes, just like the Brooklyn home, do not have properly designed, installed, monitored and maintained alarm system on the premises, making many tragedies likely avoidable. Unknowingly, fire alarm systems that are installed beyond their functional and reliable life expectancy in homes and apartments are being relied upon by consumers and their families. Because of this, it is most important that fire alarm systems be tested and maintained at least on a yearly basis by a qualified professional.

Knowing the reality that candles, hot plates, and other heating devices are left on during Shabbat and sometimes over 2-3 days of Yom Tov, he recommends the following tips for families to stay safe over the holidays.

Be vigilant

Designate a family member to make sure that all candles, hot plates, and other heating devices which are being left on are as safe as practicably possible. By way of example, place candles in a sink, not on a wooden table.

Ensure that whatever equipment is being left on is UL Listed (nationally recognized standard of safety).

Only connect [energized] equipment to electricity that has Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters [AFCI] installed on same. AFCI breakers have to be installed by a licensed electrician.

Locate energized devices away from any sources of combustion.

Have a properly designed, installed, maintained and monitored fire alarm and CO detection system installed throughout your home. A detector should be installed inside each bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and at least two detectors, or more, should be installed on each floor.

Make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of alarm sounders installed throughout your home; they are required to be electronically supervised, and the alarm sounders need to be loud enough to be able to alert and warn you of a fire or carbon monoxide emergency.

Natural gas detectors should be professionally installed in your home.

Have at least one smoke detector in very close proximity to each of the devices that are being left on for Shabbat, and the like.

Have the alarm system interconnect to your air conditioning and heating systems, so that if there is a life safety emergency, the smoke or CO or natural-gas event will not be circulated throughout your home during an emergency.

Have an emergency escape plan and rehearse it.

Time is the most important thing when it comes to fire protection. The sooner you are alerted to the fire, the better chance that you will escape it. Ensuring that there are enough detectors in the right locations throughout your home will save lives. While many people remember to change batteries, that is not enough. Make efforts to verify their functionality and constantly maintain them.

Mr. Zwirn also recommends to eliminate all extension cords, have fire extinguishers on every floor of your home (know where they are, and how to use them), UL Listed Rope escape ladders provided for every second and higher floor bedroom, one in each bedroom, each occupant of the home should have a chemical light stick to help the person see to get out and help first responders identify you. And, if there is a fire, and you escape, never go back inside the home.

By Sara Schwartz

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