On Thursday afternoon a family in East Maple Ridge learned a couple of valuable lessons that are good for everyone to know.
“Contractors in the house were doing some work and one contractor leaned a large stuffed pillow against a gas fireplace,” said Maple Ridge fire chief Peter Grootendorst, adding that the fire place was off and was cold at the time.
This gas fireplace is controlled by a thermostat and was remotely ignited automatically when the temperature in the home later decreased.
Grootendorst recalled another incident when a child’s chair was left against an unlit gas fireplace and when the fireplace activated later the chair caught fire and caused significant damage.
“Luckily, this time we caught it in time. There was only smoke damage,” the fire chief said.
“The lesson here is always treat a fireplace as if it was on.”
The second lesson learned from this same incident is related to making a 911 call from an Internet-based telephone.
The family called 911 and reached a VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol, operator who asked to confirm the address. They waited 15 minutes before calling 911 again and were told to stay on the line while the call was transferred.
“The VoIP operator could be anywhere in North America and wouldn’t know which 911 call centre to transfer the call to,” explained Grootendorst.
Using VoIP could cause an extra step in getting the local fire department.
“Potentially, this could have been much more serious,” he said.