News Releases

Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166



As temperatures drop, families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes. While space heaters are good sources of warmth, they can be very dangerous. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually, according to local fire officials.


Home heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in Alabama, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires, such as placing a space heater too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.


The (Name) offers the following safety tips. 


·         Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Choose models that have automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally.
  • Place space heater on solid, flat surface.
  • Never use an extension cord with a portable heater.

·         Check the cord before plugging in the heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use. Instead, have an electrician replace the cord or replace the heater. Remember: simply putting tape on the cord is not enough to prevent overheating and fire.


·         Keep portable electric heaters away from sinks, tubs and other wet or damp places to avoid deadly electric shocks.




Title: Don’t Let Fire Ruin Your Thanksgiving Holiday
Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many fires occurring on that day. Fire officials say it is easy to get distracted or lose track of what’s going on in the kitchen when busy or inexperienced cooks are trying to prepare several dishes while entertaining family and friends.


The Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office offers these tips for a safer Thanksgiving Day:

  • Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
  • Turn pot handles toward the center of the stove.
  • Keep the number of people in your kitchen to a minimum, especially children. Crowded kitchens cause confusions and often result in burns.

In the event of a stovetop fire, carefully slide a cookie sheet or lid over the pan and turn off the stove. Never attempt to carry a hot pan to the sink.

If you have a fire in the oven, close the oven door and turn off the heat. Once the oxygen is depleted, the fire will go out. Wait until the oven is completely cooled before opening the door again. This applies to microwave ovens, too.



Title: Turkey Fryers Pose Serious Fire Dangers
Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166

As turkey fryers that use oil become more popular, the number of turkey fryer fires has increased significantly. Many fire officials agree that the dangers associated with deep-frying a turkey aren’t worth the risk, even by a well-informed and cautious user.

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.
  • With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.


The Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office advises against using a turkey fryer. If you decide to do it anyway, consider these precautions. Always use fryers outdoors, on a solid level surface away from buildings and flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.


Do not overfill the fryer. Never leave the fryer unattended because, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours. Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and wear long sleeves and safety goggles to protect from splatter. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.


If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the gas supply off. If a fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire if the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

Contact: Neal Zipser
-Some Kidde Smoke and Smoke/Carbon Monoxide alarms manufactured from October of 2013 through May of 2014 have been determined to malfunction if the a power outage occurs at the same second that a unit is performing a sensor health check.  The defect causes these alarms to go into a "latched" mode after a power outsge causing it not to alert to the presence of smoke. For more information about this recall, consumers should call Kidde toll free at 1-844-553-9011 or visit their website at www.kidde.com.

Contact: Steve Holmes

ASHVILLE, Alabama – A judge this week ordered a St. Clair County landlord to pay $500,000 to a woman whose

11-year-old daughter died in a 2008 fire in which the rental mobile home did not have working smoke detectors.

In his ruling issued late Thursday afternoon, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bill Weathington Jr., ordered William G.

Swindall to pay the money to Angela Roddy, whose daughter, Carrie Louise Crowder, died in the Jan. 18, 2008 fire

off Crawfords Cove Road near Ashville.

The judge wrote in his 4-page ruling that other fires had previously occurred in rental properties owned by Swindall,

including one in which a man died.

"Based on the findings of fact, the court concludes that defendant William Swindall was aware of his legal duty to

provide operational smoke detectors in the mobile home he leased to Angela Roddy; that he had knowledge that the

mobile home did not have operational smoke detectors while Ms. Roddy and her daughter were living there; that he

was aware that a pre-teenage child was living in that home; and that he had already had the experience of having a

tenant die in a fire, thus he knew first hand of the injury that would likely or probably result should a fire occur,"

according to the judge's ruling.

The judge went on to write that Swindall "knowingly and intentionally disregarded the potential risk and failed and

refused to install operational smoke detectors in the dwelling leased by Ms. Roddy."

Roddy's attorney, Stan Glasscox, said Friday that they were pleased and grateful to the judge and to the deputy

state fire marshal who testified. "No amount of money can bring this young lady back to her family," he said.

"I hope it (the verdict) sends a message to slum lords that they can't ignore the law, and if they do they will

eventually get caught and there are consequences, and in this case, the death of a child," Glasscox said.

Attorney Gary L. Weaver also represented Roddy in the case.

Efforts to reach Swindall or his attorney Friday were unsuccessful.

Weathington had held a bench trial on July 10 in which he heard testimony and looked at evidence submitted by both


Deputy State Fire Marshall Andy Yarbrough, according to the ruling, testified that he had "warned" Swindall of thisobligation to have working smoke detectors at least two times prior to Roddy leasing the mobile home in 2006.

Yarbrough testified that Roddy had a smoke detector in the kitchen and one on the hall but neither worked.

The judge cited Yarbrough's testimony:

"This is of some concern because I have warned the owner [Mr. Swindall]

before that he is required as a landlord to have working smoke detectors in his rental properties. (I worked another

fire death case on 2/2/2003 where William Nunn died. I could not verify smoke detectors in that fire. I verbally

warned Will Swindall at that time about his obligation to have wired in smoke detectors in his tenant rented

properties. I reminded him again in two fires on 9/18/2003 and 9/19/2003 of rental properties that burned with no

smoke detectors. Those two fires were not rented out at the time of those fires though)."

In the early morning of Jan. 18,2008 Roddy

took her boyfriend to meet his ride to work, Carrie at home with their

five dogs and a cell phone, according to the judge's order. "A fire of unknown cause and unknown specified origin

occurred in the dwelling while Ms. Roddy was gone. Burn and smoke patterns indicate that the fire started in the

kitchen/den area of the mobile home dwelling, on the opposite end of the dwelling from the bedroom occupied by

Carrie. The fire was one that produced a great deal of smoke.

"If smoke detectors had been working, Carrie would have had escape options and she knew how to get out of a fire,"

the judge wrote. "Both the Report of Autopsy and the Certificate of Death indicate that eleven-year-old Carrie's

cause of death was from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. The position, condition and location of her remains

following the fire indicate she never awakened from her sleep before she died."