Let’s Put A “Lid” On Cooking Fires: Part II

By: Fire Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski

Welcome back!  If you missed Let’s Put a “Lid” on Fire: Part I, or if you want to take a quick refresher, fear not—it’s only a “click” away.  (We’ll be right here when you come back).

Welcome back!  When it comes to reducing any fire incident, not just food on the stove (FOS) fires, we have three accepted strategies at our disposal:

  • Education:  Inform and educate people about the dangers of fire and how to prevent fires by changing their behavior, e.g., don’t smoke in bed;
  • Engineering:  Making changes to furnishing or equipment or products to reduce the potential for fires, e.g., self-extinguishing cigarettes, or installing fire suppression equipment, e.g., fire sprinkler systems; and
  • Enforcement:  Enactment of building codes and fire prevention codes with the levying of fines or other punishment for non-compliance.

FOS fire outcomeThe high-end heat-limiting technology is a great example of how we can provide an “engineering” solution to FOS fires.  By having the equipment installed directly on the stove’s electric coils, the technology is “on the job” whenever the element is energized.  Thus, the system controls the excessive heat for us, even if we are not giving our full attention to our assignment, cooking!

Take a look at the components below and also view a video of how the Safe-T-Element™ prevents these fires (Just click on the photo!).

Safe_T_Element Infograph

The Safe-T-Element™ is now available on new stoves and can be retrofitted on existing electric stove heating elements.

Now, more than ever, we as fire service professionals must take advantage of this new engineered solution for FOS fires.  We can have a positive influence on the reduction of FOS fires by aggressively marketing this solution to our local government officials and the general public, more so than we’re currently having with trying to create a more informed and educated public.

Using our limited resources, we must promote the use of this technology that doesn’t just extinguish a fire after it starts, like a hood system or sprinkler system, but actually prevents the fire from starting at all!  The message is simple:

FOS Fire Resolution

Click on image to enlarge it

We must start by educating “our own”, e.g., the members of our individual Fire & EMS departments, so they truly understand the Why, What, and How behind this engineered solution for FOS fires.  Next,  we need to develop a program to inform and educate our local government officials, e.g.,  city managers, county managers, city council members, county commissioners, etc., using the same message to obtain their support to enact appropriate legislation, ordinances, codes, etc.

Finally, we must develop strategies to inform and educate those who are responsible for the operation and management of multi-family affordable housing complexes, multi-residential senior’s facilities, housing authorities, military housing, university/college housing, extended stay hotels, and facilities that house those who are mentally or physically challenged, to name a few.  We know that, statistically, the populations that are most at risk for having a FOS fire live in these occupancies.

FOS fires are serious business for a community fire department to manage.  It takes a lot of resources to effectively extinguish a stove top kitchen fire after the fact; we could better dedicate our precious resources toward efforts to prevent non-FOS fires, aka, the “other” 60-70 percent of fires in our communities if we make high-end heat-limiting technology the new standard for electric stoves.

In our next installment of  Let’s Put a “Lid” on Stove top Fires, we’ll talk about a “game plan” that you can use to begin your internal and external marketing efforts to win support for this amazing technology.  When I served as the Fire Chief in Union City, Georgia, we had a placard on the side of our 100-foot E-One Tower that displayed our department:  Dedicated to Excellence & Determined to Make a Difference”!  You have to live it, to make a difference, everyday!

Please share this with all your colleagues, friends and family as we move forward together to achieve the ultimate goal—No Food-on-the-Stove Fires!

Life safety for all!


About the Author

Fire Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski is the President of FIRESAFE Consulting Group.  Previously, Chief Tarnowski held key leadership positions in the State of Georgia with Henry County Fire Department, the Georgia Fire Academy, and the Union City Fire Department.

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].