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Understanding the Dangers of Home Fires

Ask This Old House host Kevin O’Connor visits Underwriters Laboratories outside of Chicago to see first hand how dangerous fires can be.

Understanding Home Fires

  1. Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg simulated a fire on a roof, complete with 12 mile per hour wind gust. The simulation was testing the integrity of the shingles and how much heat they can withstand over an hour and a half of burn time.
  2. John also simulated a grease fire by heating up oil in a cooking pan. To stop a grease fire, he recommends using the pot’s lid or a cookie sheet to smother the fire.
  3. John also encouraged every home to have working smoke alarms and an escape plan, so the whole family knows the best way to get out of the house in case of a fire.
  4. By simulating a living room fire, John demonstrated that the average time to safely escape a home when a smoke detector sounds is just 3-4 minutes. Fires spread quickly in a home because of an increased use of synthetics in building materials and furnishings.