Tennessee education officer warns of fire dangers following close call at his home

Nation & World News

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) As winter moves in to the Tri-Cities, it serves as an important reminder to check your cords, outlets and all around your house for anything that could spark a fire.

The message from the Kingsport Fire Department this holiday season is that home fires can put anyone in danger, even their own Public Education Officer Barry Brickey.

“I was working from home and my wife asked me, do you smell something burning?” said Brickey.

After searching for the source of the smell he found an outlet in his living room close to catching fire.

“I grab the plug and it was really hot and I pulled it out I noticed it was burnt,” said Brickey.

He believes that because the outlet was about 25 years old, what he plugged into the wall was loose, not tight, which caused the electrical problem.

“If they are not in all the way then you could cause arcing inside there and that’s what happened to me,” said Brickey.

Arcing usually occurs with loose electrical connections when a circuit becomes overloaded and overheats. 

“If we would have let this go a little further, we could have actually had a fire inside of the wall and not even known it was going on.”

This winter as it becomes the norm to crank up the heat and plug in Christmas decorations, the fire department has a word of advice.

“We do see an uptick in electrical fires and heating fires, a lot of times someone may be plugging in a heater and it’s going to pull a lot of electricity or they have an outlet overloaded. If you have an outlet overloaded that can cause arcing inside and maybe cause some smoldering,” said Brickey.

He adds you should double check all of your heaters, Christmas lights and trees to make sure they are working properly and have no issues.

“Anytime you might smell smoke inside your house whether you just turned your heat on or whether it’s a plastic smell or something like that you should investigate because you could have the beginnings of a fire,” said Brickey.

After the close call in his own living room, he says it is a reminder to make sure your home is safe.

“I’m the perfect example it can happen to anybody,” said Brickey.

Some major tips for your home include never overloading outlets or power strips, only plug one extension cord or power strip into an outlet at a time, and never plug a power strip into another power strip.

For heaters, double-check to make sure the outlet you are using is not overloaded, the unit is in good working condition and all of the cords have no fraying.

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