UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – We’ve reported on multiple fires across Utica within recent weeks and over the weekend a deadly fire took place in the Bronx, killing 19 people. In the wake of this tragedy, Eyewitness News spoke with Utica Fire Chief Scott Ingersoll about fire prevention as well as what procedures firefighters follow when arriving at the scene. 

“Our message is always when it comes to fire safety is making sure that you have a working smoke detector in your home,” said Ingersoll. 

Ingersoll explained that you should have a smoke detector in every room as well as a carbon monoxide detector. To prevent a fire involving a heating appliance, make sure that it is regularly maintained and inspected. If you are going to use a space heater, make sure there is a three-foot clearance around the appliance. Plug it directly into the wall, and never leave it unattended. Chief Ingersoll also emphasized the importance of sleeping with the bedroom door shut.

“A lot of times people think they e helping if they break windows before the fire department gets there but all that does is contribute to the growth of the fire because it adds an immense amount of oxygen to the building increasing the temperature it’s burning at causing problems for us when we respond,” said Ingersoll.

When looking at the 19-story building fire that took place in the Bronx, we asked is the UFD equipped to handle a fire at that height?

“We’ve had several fires in that style of building that become difficult to manage because of personnel issues and the amount of people that need assistance during that time so we try to stay ahead of that we train for those eventualities, but there are points that you can’t keep up with the number of people that are calling from upper floors,” said Ingersoll.

The Fire Chief told us that in addition to keeping doors closed, residents can put wet towels underneath the door to block out smoke. Ingersoll said that when they arrive at fires no matter what type of building, their primary mission is to search the structure. 

“It always our top priority and life safety is our number one goal and that what we put our emphasis on,” said Ingersoll.