Monday - Friday
8:30am - 4:00pm

(201) 664-1849

Fire Prevention

Contact Information

Evan Kutzin
Fire Marshal
(201) 664-1849 Ext. 26

Evan is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Fire Prevention Office. He operates under the authority of the State of New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, the Department of Community Affairs, and the State of New Jersey Uniform Construction Code.
He supervises a staff of Fire Inspectors who inspect all multi-family, commercial, and industrial sites, as well as Public and Private schools and places of Assembly for compliance with State and Building Codes. He also conducts Fire Plan Reviews for new construction and renovations.

Raphael “Ralph” Maurrasse
Fire Inspector

What You Can Do To Prevent a Fire in Your Home

One of the foremost methods to prevent a fire from occurring in your home is to install smoke detectors outside each separate sleeping area and on each floor of your home, including the basement.

  • Working smoke detectors can reduce the risk of death in a residential fire by 40 to 50%.
  • The best smoke detectors are those with lithium-powered batteries and hush buttons. A lithium powered battery can last up to ten years; hush buttons allow you to quickly stop nuisance alarms that are caused by oven smoke, burnt toast, prolonged cooking, etc.
  • If 10 year, long life smoke detectors are not available, install smoke detectors that use regular batteries, preferably alkaline, and replace batteries as necessary (at least once a year).
  • Use caution when cooking. Never leave food on a stove or in an unattended oven. Avoid wearing clothes with loose fitting sleeves that could easily catch on fire when reaching for a pot on the cooktop.
  • Have your heating system checked annually. Follow manufacturers' instructions when using portable heaters. Also, have your chimney checked and cleaned when necessary, especially if you use your fireplace frequently.
  • Do not smoke in bed. Smoking in bed is the leading cause of fire deaths and the second-most leading cause of residential fires. Never leave burning cigarettes unattended, do not empty smoldering ashes into the trash, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and window treatments.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Store flammable substances in a safe place away from heat sources.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.

Smoke Detectors and Preparation Save Lives

Residents are reminded of the importance and value of having properly operating smoke detectors in your homes. A smoke detector may save your life!

If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival are two times better when smoke detectors are present. Smoke detectors should be placed on the ceiling because smoke and heat rise and then spread along the ceiling. A smoke detector should be installed in the immediate area of the bedrooms, at least one on each floor of the house, and on the ceiling above the bottom step of the stairway going upstairs from the basement. Keep smoke detectors away from air supply registers.

Smoke detectors should be tested every week. The face and grillwork of the detectors should be cleaned to remove dust, and grease and dust should be blown out through the grillwork. Batteries should be changed on a regular basis. As a reminder, change your batteries when you change your clocks.

Be prepared! Know at least two (2) ways out of your house. Parents with school age children are urged to consult with your children when planning exit drills in your home. Your children are learning "fire safety skills" in the local schools and you may learn from them. Remember, "A working smoke detector can be the best protection against fire" in your home.

Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Inspections Required Before Home Sales

Residents selling their homes are reminded that a Certificate of Compliance indicating smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector placement and operation is required before a home sale can be completed. This State-mandated safety requirement also applies to the owner of a house that is rented. The owner must obtain a Certificate of Compliance upon any change of tenancy.

Contact the Building Department at 201-664-1849 ext. 19 to arrange an inspection and obtain this certificate.

Know What To Do if Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off

It is now required that New Jersey households install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as protection against this invisible hazard. CO2 is a gas that is undetectable by human senses yet it can cause health problems, brain damage and even death. When concentrations of the gas build up, flu-like symptoms may develop, especially among younger and older individuals who are less tolerant of this poison. If your carbon monoxide alarm activates:

  • Gather all family members together in a predetermined meeting place and check to be sure everyone is present.
  • Call 9-1-1. Leave the building immediately. Do not reenter until responders say it is safe to do so.

Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide is invisible. There will be no smoke or haze to betray its presence. Carbon monoxide is odorless. Carbon monoxide is deadly. CO is the symbol for carbon monoxide.

Fire Hazards - What Are They & What To Do About Them

The Old Tappan Fire Prevention Bureau would like to urge local residents to make their homes fire-safe by cleaning up any fire hazards. All the ingredients that start fires are common in your home: fuel, ignition sources, air, etc. Every year fire kills thousands of persons in their homes and damages or destroys half a million homes. You can prevent home fires if you know and follow basic fire safety rules and eliminate fire hazards as you go about your daily house cleaning chores.

  • Don't let rubbish pile up, dispose of it regularly.
  • Keep newspapers and magazines in neat piles and dispose of them on regular recycling days or bring them to the Transfer Station.
  • Keep anything that will burn away from furnaces or stoves.
  • Don't store flammable objects under wooden stairs.
  • Have your heating system checked yearly by a professional.
  • Check your chimney for loose bricks and cracks.
  • The stovepipe on a wood burning stove should be checked regularly.
  • Always use a screen in front of your fireplace.
  • Don't store items in front of your furnace or gas meter. The fire department must have access to it.
  • In the fall, before it snow,s put a marker at the curb where your gas shut-off is located on your gas feed line.
  • Have working smoke detectors in your home.
  • Make and practice an escape plan with your family.
  • Keep fire hydrants clear of snow, ice or weeds. Keep them visible and available for the fire department. The house we save may be yours.

How to Prevent Dryer Fires

The Old Tappan Fire Department responds to several dryer-related fires each year. Some of these fires occur when lint builds up in the filter or in the exhaust duct. Under certain conditions, when lint blocks the flow of air, excessive heat buildup may cause a fire in some dryers. To prevent clothes dryer-caused fires:

  • Clean the lint filter regularly and make sure the dryer is operating properly. Clean the filter after each load of clothes. While the dryer is operating, check the outside exhaust to make sure exhaust air is escaping normally. If it is not, look inside both ends of the duct and remove any lint. If there are any signs that the dryer is hotter than normal, it may be a sign that the dryer's temperature control thermostat needs servicing.
  • Check the exhaust duct more often if you have a plastic, flexible duct. This type of duct is more likely to trap lint than an exhaust duct without ridges
  • Closely follow the manufacturer's instructions for new installations. Most manufacturers that get their clothes dryers approved by Underwriters Laboratories specify the use of metal exhaust ducts. If metal ducts are not available at the retailer where the dryer was purchased, check other locations, such as hardware or builder supply stores. If you are having the dryer installed, insist upon metal ducts unless the installer has verified that the manufacturer permits the use of plastic ducts.

Adopt a Hydrant - It May Save Lives

The Old Tappan Volunteer Fire Department requests residents living near a fire hydrant to "Adopt a Hydrant" and remove snow and ice from around a fire hydrant during the winter months. Any assistance in clearing snow from fire hydrants will be appreciated. With mandatory training and drills, the volunteer department does not have the time or personnel to clear snow from fire hydrants after a snow storm. Most fire hydrants are marked with a hydrant stake.

Your Kitchen's Most Indispensable Appliance: A Fire Extinguisher

Although most kitchen appliances make life more convenient for you, the one that will provide you with some degree of assurance that your house won't burn down is a fire extinguisher.

If you're not sure a kitchen fire extinguisher is a necessity, consider that cooking is the largest single cause of home fires and statistics from the National Fire Protection association indicate that home fires and civilian deaths are both on the rise.

Portable fire extinguishers for the home, which can be purchased for under $20, fall into three general categories according to the kind of fires they fight. Air-pressured water extinguishers handle ordinary fires, such as burning wood, cloth, paper and many plastics while carbon dioxide and dry chemical extinguishers can be used on fires involving flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and grease and to extinguish fires caused by energized electrical equipment including electric kitchen appliances. Read up on the extinguisher's features to determine the type that best suits your needs.

To use the fire extinguisher properly, follow the written instructions that come with the unit, aim low at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle and sweep the unit from side to side.

At under $20, a portable fire extinguisher will be one of your least expensive kitchen appliances. If one day it happens to save your home or your life, it will be the most important appliance you ever bought.

Fires Caused by Burning Candles are on the Rise

A large selection of candles is available in many types of stores today. The popularity of candles has increased enormously recently, but unfortunately, so has the number of fires associated with the burning of candles.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, candles caused 9,930 fires, 126 civilian deaths and $170.6 million in property damage across the nation in 1996, the most recent year for which candle-caused fire data is available. This represents an 82% increase over the same categories from the year 1990. Most of these candle-caused fires started when burning candles were left unattended.

The Old Tappan Fire Department offers the following advice for using candles safely:

  • Position candles far away from flammable objects and materials and from any possible contact with pets or children.
  • Place candles on heat-resistant surfaces which will not transmit heat to the furniture on which they are placed. Ceramics work well for this purpose. Candles should also be placed in heat-resistant bowls that will catch the dripping wax and secured in an appropriate holder so that there is not the slightest possibility of the candle falling over or being blown or knocked over.
  • Never leave a candle unattended.
  • Never light a candle in a situation in which you might fall asleep before blowing it out.
  • When blowing out a candle, hold your index finger in front of the flame and blow at it. Air will flow around your finger, extinguish the candle from both sides, and prevent wax from splattering.
  • Install a smoke detector in every room where candles are burned.

Candles are enjoyable, calming, and fragrant, but don't ever forget that when you burn them, you are dealing with fire. Always take proper precautions to prevent your enjoyable experience from turning into a disaster.