Grease fire provides learning opportunity for community

The Payette Fire Station, as seen in this Feb. 2017 photo. Fire Department personnel share tips on how to deal with grease fires after battling one in a residence Monday.

PAYETTE — At 2:27 p.m. on Monday, two units of the Payette Fire Department responded to the scene of a residential fire at 504 N. 9th Street. According to Fire Chief Steve Castenada, the blaze started in the kitchen as a stovetop grease fire.

“It spread thru out the kitchen when the occupant attempted to extinguish the fire with water,” wrote Castenada in an email Tuesday. 

He said the kitchen was a total loss but reported there were no injuries to the occupant or fire personnel. He added that the department has responded has responded to approximately eight grease fires to the best of his knowledge.

To help the public understand how to avoid spreading grease fires, Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician William Hewitt shared expertise on the subject.

“In general, adding water to a grease fire only spreads the flames and increases the surface area where the grease spreads to and thus further increases the spread of the fire,” said Hewitt. “Basic chemistry shows us that oil floats on water. Yes, we do use water as a fire department to put out the fire, but by the time we get there its usually more than a grease fire.”

By using water, Hewitt said water sinks beneath the grease, hits the heat source and then expands, splashes, splatters and throws the burning grease.

“The occupant/owner was attempting to do the right thing with the wrong tool,” said Hewitt, adding that the flames most likely follow the direction of travel the water is thrown toward.

Following are the recommendations made by the department.

• If you cannot safely put out the fire, get everyone out and call 911.

• DO NOT put water on the grease fire.

• DO NOT put baking products on the grease fire. (Flour and or sugar products could possibly make things worse)

• Attempt to smother the grease fire with the pan lid.

• If you can smother the fire with a lid, shut off the heat source.

• If you have an “ABC” fire extinguisher attempt to extinguish the fire if you feel you are capable.

•Use the following pneumonic if you are going to attempt to use a fire extinguisher:

• “P” Pull the pin.

• “A” Aim at the base of the fire

• “S” Squeeze the handle

• “S” Sweep back and fourth.

If you feel unable to or are unsuccessful in putting out a fire, call 911.

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