Fire department encourages diligence after string of electrical fires


PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — The Pittsfield Fire Department wants the public to check for warning signs in their homes after an uptick in electrical fires.

Fire Chief Thomas Sammons says they’ve had four electrical fires in in the span of just nine days. Charles Litano’s garage burned down thanks to a battery charger hooked up to his car that shorted out.

“If I wasn’t home to call the fire department, the house would’ve went, too,” he said.

 “If you’re in doubt, unplug it,” said Chief Sammons.

He says most of the fires in recent days were sparked by overloaded power strips and extension cords.

“You gotta make sure you have the right size extension cord for the device that you’re powering,” said Chief Sammons.

NEWS10 ABC went to Carr Hardware on North Street in Pittsfield to learn more.

“So you want to use the shortest wire that gets you from the outlet to your tool,” said District Manager Gerry Miller. He says extension cords should never be a permanent solution.

His rule of thumb? If it’s a device that cools or heats anything, it needs to be plugged into the wall. Another factor is Pittsfield’s aging buildings.

“There may be two outlets in a room. The way we are with electronics these days, we want 10 things plugged into one room,” said Chief Sammons.

That’s where power strips come into play.

“So they can plug more things in it, but it’s really not designed to handle that load, so it overloads the circuit, and it can cause a fire,” said Miller.

Surge protectors can keep you safe in case of a power surge, like a lightning strike. Spending some extra time in the electrical aisle could help you avoid disaster.

“I think people are always looking for easy ways to fix things and probably don’t think about the consequences,” said Miller.

The consequences can be loss of property or much worse.

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