Don’t get too lit: Manhattan fire captain shares fire safety tips


Manhattan Fire Department captain Micah Hydeman said, with a surge in recent fires in Manhattan, he believes it is important to address fire safety. Hydeman said there five main ways he for students to prevent fires.

Unattended cooking fires

Hydeman said his biggest fear when it comes to off-campus living is unattended cooking food, even in microwaves.

“If people would just slow down and follow instructions, it would prevent a lot of false alarms and fires,” Hydeman said.

Off-campus living is less regulated than state properties, and some college students don’t always take heed of safety precautions if they aren’t being monitored, Hydeman said.

Bonfires that don’t meet city ordinances

Hydeman said most college students don’t know that the city has a list of 14 rules to follow when having a recreational fire.

Most of the time, Hydeman said all it takes is a phone call from a neighbor for the fire department to show up and evaluate the situation and determine whether or not a fire follows city ordinances.

“If it’s compliant, we don’t ruin the party,” Hydeman said. “We just want people to be safe.”

The regulation that Hydeman said is the most important is the rule against using paper products, leaves or trash in fires.

One of the most common unknown regulation with bonfires, Hydeman said, is that you can’t use paper products, leaves or trash to burn. The eighth policy regarding recreational fires in the city of Manhattan states only charcoal or clean, dry, seasoned two-foot long firewood are acceptable sources of fuel.

Check your smoke alarms

Hydeman said the importance of checking smoke alarms regularly cannot be stressed enough; it could be life or death when it comes to a fire in your room or building.

If there are any concerns, Hydeman said there is a test button on the alarm that will confirm whether the alarm is functioning properly or not. The fire department can also make a visit to your home to inspect the alarm free of charge.

Keep an eye on your animals

Hydeman said he has seen cases where a dog or cat caused an accidental fire by knocking over a candle or hitting a knob on a stovetop under cooking food.

Keep anything that is a heat source away and off while you are away from your animals, Hydeman recommends.

“Pay attention, slow down, think about what you are doing and take two minutes to prevent a fire,” Hydeman said.

Summer grilling

Grilling can lead to unwanted consequences if the person on grill duty isn’t careful or does not understand the ins and outs of proper safety techniques for grilling, Hydeman said.

Hydeman said grillers should be cognizant of wind. If a grill is not very heavy, it can be easily knocked over or pushed against a building, lighting it on fire.

City ordinances state that ashes must be disposed of in a noncombustible container, preventing the wind from carrying them.

“If you can put your hand over the container and it’s not burning your hand, then it’s not going to set anything on fire,” Hydeman said. “The bottom line is to be smart and watch your grill.”

For more information and a detailed list of the Manhattan’s outdoor fire policies go to