News Releases

Title: McClain Fire: Arson
Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166

Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk reports that the investigation into the cause of the fire that gutted a house owned by professional football player Rolando McClain has “determined the fire to have been intentionally set.”

Although the fire was the result of arson, no arrests have been made at this time and the investigation continues.

Anyone with information on this or any other suspected Arson case in Alabama is asked contact the Alabama Arson Hotline at 1-800-654-0775, or www.firemarshal.alabama.gov.

Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 240-4434

February    Smoking and Medical Oxygen


Smoking is the leading factor in home fires involving medical oxygen.


Many people using medical oxygen have other health issues that may prevent them from escaping the fire, responding to a smoke alarm, etc. For this reason, there is no substitute for prevention.


Since the safest place to smoke is outdoors, most of these fires happen when it is too cold to go outside to smoke.


Oxygen makes things burn much faster. Think of what happens when you blow into a fire; it makes the flame bigger. Normally, the air we breathe is about 20% oxygen. The air delivered to patients using medical oxygen therapy is nearly 100%, making it extremely flammable.


Smokers who use home oxygen may understand the need to turn the tank off before lighting up, but may not realize that the danger persists, even when the oxygen isn’t flowing. Oxygen can build up not only in the home, but also on the hair, clothes, and body of the patient and ignite when a heat source—like a cigarette—comes close to the face, causing severe burns.


Facial hair raises the risk of home oxygen therapy-related burns.


There is no safe way to smoke when using home oxygen. Should an individual need to smoke, it is important to first turn off the tank, and wait 10 full minutes before going outside to smoke.


Put a "NO SMOKING" sign in every room where oxygen is used.


More than 1 million people in the United States use home oxygen therapy, and it is on the rise around the world, especially in countries where smoking is increasing, the researchers say.


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.