Battalion chief warns about cooking safety following fires

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Two children remain in the hospital Wednesday with injuries they suffered in a fire that began with unattended cooking Sunday night. Now firefighters are speaking out about the importance of cooking safety to try to prevent more fires.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue battalion chief Sebastian Carrillo says unattended cooking is the leading cause of house fires in the city. In December, it claimed two lives. A 55-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man died in separate incidents, both caused by unattended cooking.

“It’s sad. I mean that’s a loss of life,” Carrillo said. “And any time we have a loss of life, we take that very seriously. Our job is to improve the quality of life for the citizens that live here in Birmingham. And that’s what our goal is.”

That’s why Carrillo wants to spread the message that taking your eyes away from the stove can be deadly.

“A lot of times, it’s not necessarily people that are leaving home, it’s just people don’t realize that you could literally step out of the kitchen and step into the living room, and before you know it, you’ve got a fire in the kitchen,” he said.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue has a division dedicated to public education on fire safety, and Carrillo says they’ll focus more on unattended fires in 2020. He’s already sharing advice for staying safe.

“When you leave the kitchen turn the stove off, or better yet, put a timer next to the stove, and set the timer,” Carrillo said. “That timer will alarm you when the food is done. You should be there standing there watching it, but just have that alarm as a backup.”

He also stresses the importance of smoke detectors. Firefighters see situations where it’s clear they played a role in saving lives, including the apartment fire this week that left the two children injured. Carrillo says smoke detectors were going off throughout the apartment complex.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue offers free smoke detectors. Carrillo says they’ll bring them out, install them and check them for you.


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