It may be that we do not have some of the roof weighting problems and clogged exahaust vents that we did a month ago, but we are sure to get some more storms in the near future, at least we can all hope so. The CO gas and propane leaks can occur anytime of year and if detected, clear your home and call 911. Below is an public services announcement that clearly explains some of the challenges we face in our area during times of heave snow:
Point of Contact: Thom Heller, Fire Marshal, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department: (760)934-2300
In light of the snow accumulation that has occurred within the Town of Mammoth Lakes during the last couple of days, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department reminds residents of several life safety issues.
These include the accumulation of large amounts of snow/ice sitting on roofs, the blockage of vents for heating and hot water appliances, the maintenance needed to safely use propane, and request for residents to keep addresses visible and hydrants available for use.
With the large accumulations of snow, especially wet snow, the roofs are supporting a tremendous load. Roofs built to today’s standards should be able to withstand the loading, but occupants need to determine if the weight of the snow should be dealt with. Some signs of excess loading include exterior/interior doors that do not open or close easily, cracks that occur in sheetrock walling, and bowing in timber members or ceilings/walls. Some buildings have experienced roof collapse without demonstrating any of the aforementioned signs. Safely removing the snow is also an issue and if you do not feel that you can accomplish the task, it is highly recommended that a professional be sought to perform the work.
At the same time, vents for any fuel powered heating appliances get blocked by the deep snow on the roof. Home owners, landlords, and tenants need to make sure that vents for these appliances are cleared of snow so that a buildup of carbon monoxide does not occur. Since carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and mixes well with air, blocked vents allow accumulations of the deadly gas to build up inside structures if not properly vented.
For those homeowners that use propane, there are several responsibilities that come with its use. The top of the tank needs to be routinely dug out to allow for quick access to the shutoff valve. In addition to making sure that all exterior gas pipes are exposed, downward snow pressure from snow settlement and falling snow and ice from the roof can cause pipe sections to crack resulting in leaks. Unfortunately, if the leak occurs under the snow, the snow keeps the gas contained and a period of time may occur before the leak is detected. In the meantime, the gas will seek openings in the foundation or structure of a building and look for a source of ignition. The propane regulations that were implemented in the early nineties have cut down on the number of building explosions and with adequate routine maintenance; we should be able to limit the number of future exposures.
Lastly, make sure that your address is clearly visible from the street. In times of emergencies, precious time is lost trying to find the proper structure when no address can be located. Also, there are fire hydrants located throughout town that are used by the fire department in the event of a fire. As we get to this time of the year, many of the hydrants get buried under the snow. The fire department is requesting interested individuals to routinely shovel out the hydrant nearest to their home. If maintained frequently, the amount of work is minimal and may even be shared by several neighbors. If interested in participating, please contact Jody Holl at 934-2300 for information about the program and the location of the nearest hydrant if it is not readily apparent.
Thank you for your interest in these topics. If you did not place new batteries in your smoke detectors when we switched from daylight savings time, now is the time to do it. If you would like any additional information on these topics or anything else pertaining to the Fire Department, please feel free to contact the Fire Station at any time at 934-2300.