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GPVFD Shares Winter Fire Safety Tips


Sigrid Olson, Pathfinder

The heat lamp in this chicken house is too close to the dry straw used in the nesting boxes. Although securely fastened, if the birds flew around and knocked it off the wall it could start the straw on fire. GPVFD Fire Chief Ryan Hall recommends heat lamps securely mounted and away from flammable material.

POTOMAC - There are certain fire hazards people should be aware of during the wintertime. The Greenough/Potomac Volunteer Fire Department (GPVFD) strives to protect, educate and assist the community by providing emergency services and recommends being a vigilant neighbor and taking precautions during the winter to prevent structure fires.

Through the years the GPVFD has seen fires that have been started in different ways. Hall said fires have started from heating lamps, wood stoves, chimney fires, candles, propane heaters and children.

Heating lamps are commonly used in the winter in chicken houses and barns. Chief Hall said, "Make sure the lamps are in good working order and follow all the label specifications." It is important to securely fasten the lamps to prevent possible ignition in dry straw, shavings or other bedding material because sometimes chickens and other stock can knock the lamps down.

Wood stoves and chimneys should be cleaned monthly. "Every eight years a professional company should conduct chimney inspections," Chief Hall said. When installing chimneys or stovepipes Hall advises following engineered specifications and fire codes which professional companies adhere to when installing.

If firewood is brought indoors to dry it should be 18 inches or more away from the stove. Firewood drying next to wood stoves might cause a fire if the wood collapses onto the stove.

Ash disposal should be done in a non-flammable container and spread on top of snow. Ashes should not go into the trash and ash buckets should not be left in houses or on porches, according to Chief Hall.

Candles should be used minimally and never left unattended. Hall said children should not use candles, matches, lighters or fireworks. If children are allowed to use them, they should be supervised closely.

Chief Hall has seen fires caused by propane heater use indoors. This also produces toxic fumes.

Other fire hazards include natural Christmas trees that have dried out from lack of watering, plugged dryer vents and cracked or damaged oven heating elements as well as extension cords in use that are coiled up and generating heat.

The GPVFD reminds residents to have one correctly working smoke alarm per bedroom and throughout homes. Batteries should be changed twice a year. One suggestion is to change smoke alarm batteries when clocks are changed for daylight savings time. Carbon Monoxide detectors are recommended in each bedroom and evenly spaced throughout the home with batteries changed twice a year as well.

GPVFD Chief Hall said this time of year people may need extra help. "Keep an eye on your neighbors; is their driveway plowed, or do they need help with firewood or chimney cleaning?" said Hall. Hall encourages residents to notice anything out of the ordinary like lack of smoke in chimneys or lack of tracks in or out of driveways.

For more information on fire safety, chimney cleaning or about the GPVFD, contact Fire Chief Hall at 406-244-0139, cell 406-544-3034 or email Also like the Greenough Potomac Volunteer Fire Department on Facebook at

GPVFD to Replace QRU Vehicle

Sigrid Olson, Pathfinder

Extension cords can be stored rolled up but the GPVFD recommends never plugging them in and using them while they are rolled or piled up because of the heat generated. If the piled up cord is plugged in, the heat can melt the plastic and insulation surrounding the cords and start a fire, according to GPVFD Chief Ryan Hall.

The GPVFD Quick Response Unit (QRU) provides service to more than 600 homes in their fire protection district as well as Highway 200 travelers and Blackfoot recreational visitors. The QRU responds to all medical calls, motor vehicle wrecks, structure fires, river rescues and any larger wildland fires.

The present QRU vehicle will be replaced in the near future. Chief Hall has ordered a 2016 one ton, four door, four wheel drive vehicle with a utility box for medical equipment storage, highway safety and rescue supplies as a replacement for the current QRU. The vehicle is valued at $60,000, which leaves the GPVFD funding $14,000 after donations, sponsorship contributions and monies from wildland firefighting. The GPVFD appreciates community support and consideration. All sponsors will be recognized.

For more information or to make a yearend tax deductible contribution toward the new QRU vehicle contact the GPVFD Fire Chief Ryan Hall by email at or mail donations to 30039 Potomac Road, Potomac, MT 59823.


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