In Depth: Up in Flames

May 15, 2017 06:30 PM

If you're viewing this story on your laptop computer, inside your climate controlled home, sitting on a comfy couch, with your head on a soft pillow and with plush, deep pile carpeting below you, you probably don't realize how much potential danger there is around you.

The truth of the matter is all of those items and many more household items do pose a significant fire threat to you and your entire family.

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There are a myriad of fire hazards, both hidden and in plain sight, that potentially jeopardize the safety of Jessica Kirk's two daughters, 7-year-old Isabel and 4-year-old Charlotte, in their Glenmont home.

"I feel pretty safe, even though we have the fireplace, we still feel safe," she explained.

For all intents and purposes, they are safe. However, if the unthinkable were to happen, if a fire were to break out, there are certain things the Kirk's and all other families need to be aware of.

To do that, NewsChannel 13 brought in fire safety expert Pete Lattanzio to tour their home and point out the dangers.

"I'm curious to hear what he has to say about what is safe and what is flammable that I don't really think of," she acknowledged.

"Fire does not discriminate," warned Lattanzio. "Fire doesn't care if you're living in an apartment. Fire doesn’t care if you’re living in a private home. We've had fire in multi-million dollar mansions."

Regardless of where the fire breaks out, Lattanzio says the greater concern has become what's fueling the fire. Lightweight building materials used in construction, along with synthetic flooring, upholstery, pillows and electronics are more flammable, more toxic and more dangerous than ever.

Furniture once made out of wood, is now Formica. Carpeting, which used to be wool, is now nylon.

"What we're seeing today is because of the materials that are being brought into houses. They're a petroleum byproduct, there’s a lot of foam rubber. Then, there’s a lot of other materials added in. The burn rate is drastically quicker," noted Lattanzio.

A rapid burn rate that Lattanzio says is typically present inside every room.

"So a small fire in this room within a matter of minutes is going to rapidly increase and expand throughout," he pointed out to Kirk, while standing in her home.

Lattanzio explained what would happen if fire were to break out downstairs while everyone was asleep upstairs.

"Because smoke and gases are lighter than air, they travel, so they're going to go to the ceiling, but they're going to rapidly travel to the second floor, so your escape route has been cut off," he noted.

Faster combustion means quicker spreading fires and less time to escape, but also potentially more time breathing in toxic chemicals.

"I don't expect people to go out and tear their whole house apart. This is the world that we live in today and it's not going to change," he admitted.

NewsChannel 13’s Dan Levy asked Kirk her biggest take away from this experience.

"To think before I buy any new furniture or just think about it now that Pete has educated me on what to look for. I don't think I realized how flammable things are," she admitted.

More information:

Basic fire escape planning

Fire safety song for kids

Creating your own fire escape plan


Dan Levy

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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