Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Holiday Safety

Each year as the holiday season approaches we all bustle about with enthusiasm. People thinking of parties and presents, reconnecting with old friends and family even if it is just through a Christmas card those wonderful things that show up in your mail box instead of just bills, and flyers. It’s a great season, but also a very busy one as we seem to love to decorate our homes, relocate furniture and get everything just right. The problem can be though that in our haste to get the job done, we forget about fire safety and the consequences that can and do arise.

With that in mind I’ve gathered some tips from a variety of places that will ensure Holiday cheer, instead of Christmas living in someone else’s house as you fight with the insurance company.

The Christmas tree

  • Get a freshly cut tree. It will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard. Try to pick a tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance. A tree with high moisture content is safer. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground; needles should bend, not break; and the stump should be sticky with resin.
  • Place the tree in a stand that will hold 2 to 3 litres of water and top it up daily. Make sure it is always immersed in water: If water drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, requiring a fresh cut.
  • Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace, heating duct or sunny window. It should not block doors or windows.
  • Never use lighted candles on the tree, or even near it.


  • Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.
  • If there are young children or pets in your home, avoid very small decorations.
  • Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.


  • Use the proper lights for the environment. Indoor light strings/sets should not be used outdoors because they lack weatherproof connections. Some outdoor light strings/sets burn too hot indoors.
  • Inspect light strings/set before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.
  • Do not use electric light strings/sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone coming into contact. Illuminate metallic trees with colored floodlights placed at a safe distance from the tree and out of reach.
  • Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or before leaving the house.


  • Place candles away from absolutely anything that could catch fire.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Put candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, well away from drafts, curtains, children and pets.
  • Snuff them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.

The Fireplace

  • Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
  • Don't hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
  • Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
  • Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Never leave the fire unattended or let it smoulder.

Electrical Outlets

  • There is often a tendency to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
  • Inspect all cords before using. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper use.
  • Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
  • To avoid possible overheating, do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.

The Kitchen

Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here's what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:

  • Keep a Fire Extinguisher in the kitchen, and make sure everyone know where it is and how to use it.
  • Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid.
  • Turn off the heat immediately.
  • With all the festive cheer this time of year, keep a close eye on anyone attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is all too often a common factor in many fatal fires.
  • Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire.

Gift Suggestions

  • Home smoke alarm
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Multi-purpose (ABC) fire extinguisher

Last but not least ... make sure your fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and CO detectors work!  

If you can make it burn, we can put it out!

Posted by Rob Read at 9:46 AM 0 Comments

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bison Fire Protection Roams To Kenora Ontario

Bison Fire Protection Inc. has purchased Kenora District Fire and Safety. When Bonnie Swanson the owner of Kenora Fire called me saying it was time for her to retire it was an opportunity that required a second look. Kenora Fire has been in business serving the City of Kenora and surrounding area for over 20 years, and has developed solid and productive relationships with all of their customers. I know this because we have worked with Kenora Fire for many of those years supporting them with products, services, and technical expertise when required.

Kenora District Fire has been a company that focused only on fire extinguishers and fire suppression doing an excellent job of both. Bison Fire will bring our expertise in that area, however we will also be expanding to include both fire alarm, and automatic sprinkler installations and service. Having these services available locally will be beneficial to the community in reduced wait times for service reduced expense in travel costs. We look forward working closely with the Kenora business community to build on what has been a strong relationship created by Kenora Fire, and increasing the local service levels in areas that traditionally have had to rely on outside support.

We would like to congratulate Bonnie on her retirement, and thank her for her years of dedicated service to the community. I know she’s looking forward to spending days beside the lake catching up on her reading, as well visiting her family in BC through winters darkest days.

While this is a good opportunity for everyone here at Bison Fire it is a great opportunity for both Kenora and the surrounding area by having professional fire protection on their doorstep. 

If you can make it burn, we can put it out!

Bison Fire Protection's Newest Location in Kenora OntarioBison Fire Protection's Kenora Service Truck

Posted by Rob Read at 8:42 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thorough Testing Can Save Lives

People go through their days mostly unaware of the fire protection equipment around them. Most have never used a fire extinguisher, and if given the choice between a dry chemical and a CO2 type extinguisher they wouldn’t know which to choose. This is one of the reasons we offer Fire Extinguisher Training, and provide Fire Safety Plans to our customers.

Recertifying fire extinguishers after they have had an annual inspection is a large part of what we do around here. Customers are always interested to see the process that a fire extinguisher goes through when they visit our office. I have talked in the past about the different types of extinguishers that exist and the different service requirements each type needs.

As an example a dry chemical extinguisher hangs on your wall with about 195lbs stored pressure almost double the air pressure used in an air compressor to operate air driven tools in a service garage. A CO2 fire extinguisher hangs on the wall with 800 lbs stored pressure. If that extinguisher was to rupture it would have the same force as a stick of dynamite. This is why CO2 extinguishers are hydrostatically tested every 5 years instead of the 12 year period for dry chemical extinguishers.

The hydrostatic test involves filling the fire extinguisher with water then pressure testing it to the required test pressure in the case of a CO2 that would be 3000lbs. It’s a test that is either passed or failed no exceptions. Before we get to the hydrostatic test we perform a couple other tests. The first is a visual inspection of the inside of the cylinder to check for rusting pitting or any other oddities. The second is a magnified look at the threads on the neck of the cylinder where the head screws in. This can be a key point of stress due to the tightening of the head onto the cylinder at a point that holds all of that pressure inside.

We recently found a cylinder that had cracks in the neck and were fortunate enough to get a picture of them as shown below. The cylinder was immediately condemned, and the customer notified of the situation. We didn’t waste time going to the hydrostatic test because the cylinder was now deemed dangerous.

There are many aspects to what we do every day to keep people safe. Back when I was a kid burning holes in paper with a magnifying glass, I would never have thought it would lead to protecting people, and their property.

If you can make it burn, we can put it out!

Cracks in the Threading of a CO2 ExtinguisherService Technician using the OptiPlus to Inspect Cylinder Threads

Posted by Rob Read at 4:14 PM 0 Comments

Monday, October 27, 2014

Training Never Ends

The cost of training can be very high, and whether we send people to the manufacturer, or they come to us the values of having highly trained experts servicing fire protection equipment is immeasurable. Consider for a moment having a non-trained fire suppression technician come into your place of business. Then think about the fallout from a fire. Will your insurance cover you? Will the untrained, uncertified fire protection providers insurance cover them, and do they even have adequate coverage for this? If not will your business survive this? These are just a few of the questions you should consider when hiring a company to protect your business, your staff, and ultimately yourself. 

We were very happy to have Iain Boyd of Kidde Canada come into our Winnipeg office and spend a couple days training our suppression technicians on the finer points of design, installation, and inspection for both wet, and dry chemical pre-engineered suppression systems.. He also spent some time describing the fallout when those things are not done correctly to fire code, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. The expense of having 15 suppression technicians “off the road” for a couple days, with several coming from our various branch offices is substantial, but we believe it’s worth every penny.

Many of our technicians have been with us for several years, some were new to the industry, and some had come from within the fire protection industry. I found it particularly disturbing when the technicians with industry experience admitted this was the first training course they had ever attended. A poor refection of my industries desire to provide professional service when the liabilities are so high.

This dedication to training is at the forefront of Bison Fire Protections mission “To Provide the Best Fire Protection Available to our Customers” I think it’s appropriate that in the month that has Fire Prevention Week that we had 15 Suppression Technicians being factory trained and at the beginning of the month 10 Fire Alarm technicians and support people at the CFAA Manitoba Technical Seminar. This type of constant reoccurring training is why……

If you can make it burn, we can put it out!

Range Guard Restaurant Fire Suppression TrainingKidde Canada Dry Chemical Pre Engineered Fire Suppression Training

Posted by Rob Read at 12:05 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Manitoba CFAA Technical Seminar

I attended the Manitoba CFAA (Canadian Fire Alarm Assn.)  Technical Seminar yesterday held here in Winnipeg. As you can imagine it was centered on the technicians in the Fire Alarm Industry, and had a number of great speaker addressing the current hot topics in fire alarm.

The Manitoba Chapter of the CFAA has been very active over the last number of years, but I was pleased to see the accomplishments that have been achieved over the last year. They include;

  • Having a Booth at the Red River College Job Fair to attract students to our industry
  • We gave a presentation to BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Assn.)
  • Obtained Clarification from the OFC (Office of the Fire Commissioner) on MBC regarding fire alarm interconnection with Carbon Monoxide detectors.
  • Successfully lobbied the OFC for support for codes and standards updates for all Manitoba CFAA technicians.
  • Participated with the OFC for the implementation of inspection labels.

The seminar covered topics ranging from ULC commissioning of a building to addressable systems, False Alarm reduction strategies, Liabilities, Responsibilities & Ethics, and many other great topics. I was very disappointed that every local AHJ, Government body & related industry declined to give a presentation. We have a lot of local nuances that don’t occur in any other jurisdictions. These people would have added a lot of value. I find it hard to believe some companies chose not to invest in there staff, buy sending them to an event like this in our own backyard.

I believe the seminar was a success, based upon the feedback of my staff, and having spoken with others in attendance. These types of seminars raise the level of quality of each technician that was present, and makes our province a safer place to live.

If you can make it burn, we can put it out!




2014 CFAA Technical Seminar

Bison Fire attended the CFAA Seminar

Posted by Rob Read at 3:24 PM 0 Comments