Safety Information

Puppet Shows & Station Tours

The City of Rocky Mount Fire Department has always been instrumental in delivering quality fire and life safety programs. Our two traveling puppet companies are no exception, and have been the core of our fire and life safety education efforts with the children of Rocky Mount for 20 years. During the month of October alone, we present our puppet show to over 4400 children. Our existing program is targeted toward children ages PreK-2nd grade. It offers messages about Stop, Drop, and Roll, Crawl Low in Smoke, Fire Drills, and Don't Play with Matches. To schedule a fire station tour and/or puppet show for your group, please contact Blaise Harris, Fire and Life Safety Educator, at 972-1379.

Remembering When: A New Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults

Fact: At age 65, older adults are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires or falls compared to the population at large.

Fact: Each year, 30 percent of people age 65 and older are involved in falls, the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the home.


Fact: In the U.S. and Canada, adults age 65 and older make up about 12 percent of the population - and their numbers are increasing.

The Rocky Mount Fire Department is a local sponsor of "Remembering When," a fire and fall prevention program for older adults developed and distributed by the National Fire Protection Association Center for High-Risk Outreach and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an educational and informative program with activities and lesson plans that use a nostalgia theme and scattered references to music, events, and personalities from the past.

Remembering When is centered around 16 key fire and fall prevention messages with a nostalgia theme. Remembering When is informative as well as entertaining. All of the activities and lesson plans are built around a theme of nostalgia and have scattered fun references to music, events, and personalities from days gone by. The City of Rocky Mount Fire Department is now offering these classes free of charge to any senior adult group in the city limits. If you are interested in scheduling this class for one of your senior group meetings, contact Blaise Harris, Fire and Life Safety Educator, at 972-1379.

Home Fire Safety

We are pleased to offer a series of important and helpful information on a variety of home fire safety topics. Click on a link in the list below to read information on a particular topic.

Ashes Disposal

Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage occurs and dozens of families are displaced because of fires in their homes that are caused by the improper disposal of fireplace ashes. Fireplace and wood-stove ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire. It is important to learn the following ways to dispose of fireplace and wood-stove ashes properly:

  • DO NOT Discard your ashes into any combustible container like a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.

  • DO Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.

  • DO Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.

  • DO Keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from combustibles.

  • DO Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or wood stove.

Auto Fire Safety

Every year the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department responds to a large number of automobile fires. About 90 percent of these fires could have been prevented if owners had invested a few minutes' time every couple of months. If you would like to prevent an automobile fire in your car, then you or your gas station attendant should periodically check or perform the following maintenance items:

  • Watch for oil or gasoline leaks in the engine compartment.

  • Check all gasoline lines for loose fittings, cracked hoses, bent lines, or worn clamps at least yearly.

  • Ensuring that the air cleaner is replaced in its original position and is properly secured (lack of air cleaner is a common automobile fire cause).

  • Visually inspect the electrical system for broken or frayed wires and ensure that all wires are making a good connection. This should be done in both the engine and passenger compartments.

  • Never throw any burning material out of a window, as the wind may blow it back into the car.

  • Be extremely careful while smoking, or when using an open flame inside the vehicle.

  • Lock your car whenever you leave it. This prevents others from entering your vehicle and possibly setting fire to it.

If you should have an automobile fire, the best method of reducing damage is to quickly extinguish the fire. Therefore, the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department recommends that all automobiles carry a fire extinguisher in good operating condition. The extinguisher should have a minimum 10BC rating and be UL listed. This rating, found on the label, means that the fire extinguisher will handle either a gasoline or electrical fire.

Bedroom Fire Safety

Each year, fire claims the lives of 4,000 Americans and injures more than 25,000. Bedrooms are a common area of fire origin. Many of these fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, such as overloading extension cords or using portable space heaters too close to combustibles. The United States Fire Administration (USFA), the Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC), and the City of Rocky Mount Fire Department would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from bedroom fires.

  • Children of all ages set over 100,000 fires annually. Over 30% of fires that kill children are set by children playing with fire.

  • Keep matches and lighters locked up and away from children. Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, evidence your child may be playing with matches.

  • Teach your child that fire is a tool, not a toy.

  • Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.

  • Take extra care when using portable heaters. Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters.

  • Only use lab-approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.

  • Never smoke in bed.

  • Replace mattresses made before the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.

  • Finally, having working smoke alarms dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Place at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home and in halls outside bedrooms. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Burns & Scalds

In the kitchen:

  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.

  • Have adequate dry potholders or oven mitts hung neat your stove. Using wet potholders could result in a steam burn.

  • Do not toss wet foods into deep-fat fryers or frying pans with hot grease.

  • Use only proper containers in a microwave oven and let microwave-cooked foods cool before removing covers.

Hot water:

  • Adjust your water heater's temperature to below 1200F to prevent scalds at the kitchen sink or in bathtubs or showers.

  • Always turn cold water on first and then add hot.

  • Never leave a small child unattended in the bathtub.

First aid for burns:

  • Cool It! For first and second-degree burns, cool the burned area with running cool water for at least 10 minutes. Third degree burns require emergency treatment.

  • Don't use Grease! Putting butter or grease on a burn holds in heat which makes the injury worse.

Candle Safety

The City of Rocky Mount Fire Department offers the following tips for using candles safely:

  • Keep candles far away (at least 3 feet) from anything that can burn, including people, pets, and furniture.

  • Place candle in sturdy, non-combustible holders.

  • Don't place candles in windows so all exits will be accessible.

  • Keep candles out of children's reach and never leave children unattended in a room with burning candles.

  • Always blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. CO is a common by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. (wood, paper, charcoal, natural or LP gas, fuel oil, kerosene, etc.) You can't see, taste or smell it. CO can kill you before you know it's even there.

Inefficient burning of fuels creates CO. An improperly installed gas appliance may allow CO to escape. Cracked vent pipes or chimneys also let CO back into your home. Portable, non-electric heaters may be a source as well.

How do I protect myself from Carbon Monoxide? Have a professional inspect your vent pipes or chimneys on an annual basis, don't run gas-powered equipment such as generators, in your home, and never run an auto in an enclosed garage for an extended period. The Rocky Mount Fire Department also recommends that you protect you and your family by installing and maintaining a UL listed Carbon Monoxide detector at sleeping areas.

Electrical Hazards

  • Are appliances checked periodically for good operating condition?

  • Are you careful not to run extension cords under rugs or over hooks and nails?

  • When using extension cords for appliances, does the gauge of both cords match in size?

  • When replacing light bulbs, do you make sure that the new bulb does not exceed the fixture manufacturer's wattage recommendation?

  • Do you unplug all heating appliances (irons, hairdryers, toasters, etc.) when not in use?

Escape Planning

Did you know that by simply practicing a home fire drill with your family, you could greatly reduce the chances that one of your family members would be injured if you were to have a fire in your home?

It's easy! Smaller children usually find this fun and exciting. Take the time to discuss what each person should do, and then, sound your smoke alarm and practice your plan. This will help everyone learn the sound of the smoke alarm and make the steps you discuss be an automatic reaction when an alarm activates.

The following steps will guide you to developing the perfect plan.

  1. Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room. For a copy of a floor plan, click here!

  2. Sleep with your bedroom door closed. It helps to hold back heat and smoke.

  3. Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.

  4. Make certain that no one goes back inside

  5. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Fire Escape Plan

  • Does your family have a fire-escape plan prepared?

  • Is your escape plan posted and regularly practiced?

  • Does each bedroom have two exits?

  • Do all family members know how to dial 9-1-1 for fire, police, or medical emergencies?

  • Do you show your babysitter the escape routes from your home and review 9-1-1 with him/her?

  • Does your family (and babysitter) know the first rule in fire emergencies: Get Everyone Out Fast and Don't Go Back Inside?

  • Do you have and know how to use a fire extinguisher?

Flammable Liquids Disposal

Be it gasoline, barbecue fuel, paint or paint thinner, CAUTION is the word to live by. Flammable liquids are as common as most other commodities we use daily around our homes. So common, in fact, we often forget their potential to cause serious injury or loss of life. Oftentimes in our complacency, we treat flammable liquids as if they were no more harmless than the water we drink.

When the vapors of a flammable liquid do ignite, they often do so with explosive force. This can lead to serious injury of a victim's face and eyes and often results in clothing catching fire. The City of Rocky Mount Life Safety Division offers the following tips on storage and use of flammable liquids in and around your home:

  • Store flammable liquids in an approved container specifically designed for such liquids. Metal containers are best. Do not use glass containers. If plastic is your choice, make certain it is a type approved for such use.

  • Store flammable liquids in a well-ventilated area, separate from the living portion of the home - preferably in a storage building apart from the house. Keep all hazardous products locked up and out of the reach of children.

  • Read the labels on all flammable liquid containers and observe the precautions as indicated.

  • Make certain all flammable liquids are kept well away from ignition or flame sources. Be aware of spark producing equipment such as pilot lights, cigarettes, matches or lighters. Remember that many flammable liquid vapors can be ignited by a distant flame or spark.

  • Never carry gasoline in the trunk of a car. If your car is hit from the rear by another car, there can be a fatal explosion.

  • Re-fuel gas-powered equipment outdoors and only after the equipment has cooled down (lawn mowers, tillers, etc).

  • Always use flammable liquids in a well-ventilated area to prevent a concentration of their highly flammable and often toxic vapors.

Heating and Cooking

  • If you have a fireplace, is a screen always placed in front of it?

  • Is the filter for your forced air heater changed quarterly and the venting cleaned?

  • Are furnaces and wood burning stoves in good repair and located away from combustible walls and ceilings?

  • Do you have the fireplace chimney cleaned and checked annually?

  • Do you make sure combustibles are not stored near the stove, heater or fireplace?

  • Do your children keep a safe distance from flame and heat sources?

  • Do you turn handles inward, so pots and pans won't be pulled or knocked off the stove?

  • Do you keep a properly fitting pan lid nearby to use in the event of a grease fire?

  • Do you turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen?

Home Electrical Safety

Electric fires in homes claim the lives of 400 Americans each year and injure 1,500 more. Some of these fires are caused by misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. The Rocky Mount Fire Department would like citizens to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.

  • Use extension cords wisely, never overload them or allow them to serve as a substitute for permanent wiring.

  • Never overload electrical outlets. If at all possible, use safety closures to child proof electrical outlets.

  • When buying electrical appliances look for products which meet the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) standard for safety.

  • If an appliance is a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.

Home Inspection Checklist

The following checklist will help you determine potential hazards in your home. "No" responses provide a guide to what precautions need to betaken. Act now! For help with your home inspection, contact Life Safety, Planning, and Emergency Management at 972-1376.

Smoking Habits
  • Are all matches and lighters kept out of children's reach?

  • Is "No Smoking in Bed" a rule of the house?

  • Is your family aware that ashtrays should NEVER be emptied into waste baskets?

  • Are there plenty of large, safe ashtrays throughout the house?

  • Do you check for smoldering cigarette butts on the furniture?


  • Do you keep rubbish cleaned out of attics, garages, and yards?

  • Is paint kept in tightly closed metal containers?

  • Are flammable liquids stored in safety cans and kept away from heat and children?

  • Have you made it a rule to never use flammable liquids for cleaning clothes or starting fires?

  • Are oily rags kept in a tightly sealed container?

  • Have all dried grass cuttings, tree trimmings, and weeds been disposed of properly or recycled?

Smoke Alarms

  • Have you installed a smoke alarm outside every sleeping area and on each floor?

  • Do you test your smoke alarm(s) every month?

  • Do you replace the smoke alarm batteries at least twice a year?

  • Do you replace your smoke alarms when they are 10 years old?