Police & Fire

South Orange Fire Chief Warns About Dangers of Winter Weather

South Orange Fire Chief John Shoemaker. Credits: Amy Kiste Nyberg

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – With the village in the grip of winter, residents should be alert to the risks of a house fire, says Fire Chief John Shoemaker.

He warned that cold weather always brings an increase in fires and it is important for residents to take precautions to protect their homes.

“Everybody has some sort of heater that they use during the winter,” Shoemaker said. “And whether it be electric, oil or gas fed, they can all start a fire.

Sign Up for E-News

“The most important thing,” he continued “is that your heating plan should be serviced yearly by a competent serviceman to certify that it’s in working order.”

In most cases, he said, a blaze can be prevented by using common sense to avoid dangerous situations.

“Things like your stove don’t need to be inspected, but you still need to use them with care,” Shoemaker said.  “If you need to use a timer to make sure you’re paying attention to your food, that’s a really good idea. And be careful where you store things. I’ve seen people leave cardboard boxes and milk carton right above the stove. Those things can ignite and start a fire, which jumps to the curtain or cabinets.”

He also recommends making sure that electrical cords are not worn out or cheaply made.

“Don’t use an electric cord from the 99-cent store,” he said. “They aren’t good quality, and if you’re using something that takes up a lot of electricity … that plastic cord can heat up to the point that it ignites.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that people tend to put themselves at greater risk during the holiday season, according to Shoemaker.

“Obviously people are smoking and drinking more during the holidays,” he said. “And those two things don’t mix. If you have a few drinks and fall asleep with a cigarette in your hand, it’s not too hard to drop it. No matter where it lands, it’s probably going to be on something that can catch fire. Some people also light a lot of candles that can easily be knocked over.”

Homeowners are not the only ones at risk in a house fire. Firefighters face added difficulties when working in the cold.

“Fighting a fire in the cold is always more difficult because we have to deal with winter weather elements,” Shoemaker noted.  “Sometimes when the streets are cleared, they miss a fire hydrant and we can’t use it. And sometimes the hydrants even freeze. Each engine carries 500 gallons of water, but that doesn’t go a very long way when you have an entire building on fire.

“We also have to worry about ice,” he continued. “When we put a ladder up and we’re spraying all this water, it can freeze and the ladder becomes very slippery. We also have to deal with icy rooftops that are dangerous to our guys on the roof trying to let smoke out from the top.”

Shoemaker said this is why it is important for residents to be prepared for a fire before it begins.

“Fighting a fire in the winter is always more difficult and labor-intensive,” Shoemaker said. “And a fire always has a head start on us before we’re even called. That’s why everyone should be prepared. Every house should have a 10-pound ABC fire extinguisher in case of a contained fire that can be put out in 30 seconds. That’s bigger than a little kitchen extinguisher, but it can put out any type of fire if it’s very small and controlled.”

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


South Orange Police Blotter - Burglary and Attempted Burglary Reported

January 23, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of January 23

Attempted Burglary - A Redmond Rd. resident reported on Wednesday,  Jan. 18, at approximately 4:50 p.m., actor(s) unknown smashed a window of the residence in an attempt to gain entry. This triggered the residence's alarm and police responded quickly. No entry was gained and the detective bureau responded to process the ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Four Thefts Reported, Two at Wawa

January 11 - Theft; At approximately 2:30 p.m., a female customer had her wallet stolen from the QuickChek after leaving it on the counter.

January 11 - Theft; At approximately 4:45 p.m. a female shoplifted a purse from a store on Maplewood Ave.

January 13 - Theft; At approximately 10:00 p.m., an employee of Wawa had their cell phone that was left on the counter ...

Maplewood Property Reassessment Process Coming to a Close

January 24, 2017

From the Township of Maplewood website

Reassessment Process Coming to a Close

The reassessment project is coming to a close. Letters have gone out to property owners with their updated assessments.  Appraisal Systems Inc. (ASI) is winding down to their final meetings with property owners.  If you have questions about your updated assessments, you should contact ASI at ...

SOMA Residents Join Women's Marches in Washington, DC and New York City {Photos}

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Many SOMA residents participated in the Women's March on Washington and the Women's March on New York on Saturday, Jan. 21. 

Organizers estimate that 34 buses with about 1,900 people left from South Orange and Maplewood this morning heading to the march in Washington, DC.

Hundreds more traveled from SOMA to the Women's March on New York ...

South Orange Middle School Student Organizes March on South Orange on Saturday

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - About 200 people gathered at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the gazebo near the South Orange train station for a march on South Orange Ave. to Spiotta Park. The 'March on South Orange: A Student March for Peace, Unity, and Equality' was organized by Hudson Pollock, a seventh-grader at South Orange Middle School (SOMS).

Pollock's mother, Vanessa Pollock, ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, January 24, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, January 25, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, January 25, 4:00 PM

Overlook Medical Center, Bouras Auditorium, Summit

Summit Schools Fine Art Exhibition Awards ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Wed, January 25, 6:30 PM

The Newark Club - Metropolitan Room, Newark

ACG NJ Joint Super Networking Party, January 25

Arts & Entertainment Business & Finance Food & Drink

Women's March on Washington: Why, and Why Now

January 11, 2017

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, a number of groups are planning various events and rallies – perhaps most notably, the Women’s March on Washington. I have read a number of opinion pieces and spoken to many people about the March, and several questions and criticisms seem to consistently arise. I would like to address two of the major themes.

(Q) The election is ...

A Buyer's First Steps

So you think you may want to start house hunting in the Spring....Here are the first steps to take.

Know how much you can afford.  It's a waste of time to look at homes that are not in your price range. Talk to a few mortgage brokers to see who has the best interest rate and packages and what price range is best for your budget.

Contact me at www.homesnearnyc.com or talk ...

Millburn-Short Hills Chamber Hosting 'A Taste of Millburn' Soiree Featuring South Orange's Ricalton's Tavern and Above Restaurant

January 23, 2017

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce is hosting 'A Taste of Millburn' Soiree on January 30 at the Short Hills Hilton. Many business owners, elected officials, and residents are expected to come out and enjoy the festivities. 

Area restaurants will serve up tasting size dishes to sample while attendees sip the signature Cranberry Frost Martini created just ...

Attempted Armed Robbery on Manor Drive in Union

January 24, 2017

UNION, NJ – A 911 call to Union Police very early Friday morning, Jan. 20. reported an attempted armed robbery on Manor Drive.

According to police, the victim reported that he was sitting in his car on Manor Drive waiting for his son to come out of his apartment when three men came up to him.  One of the men pointed a gun at him.  The victim, a retired corrections officer ...

Family of Special Needs Child Thank Union Police Officers

UNION, NJ – When Elsie Mackey worked with the Union Police Department on developing the Special Needs ID Card program, she had no idea she and her son would be the first to benefit from it.

Mackey’s son, twelve-year old Julian, has autism.  Earlier this month, his caretaker was running late and Julian entered his home alone after school.  The home alarm sounded and Julian ...

Short Hills Residents Host TSTI’s (RE)Connection Group Potluck

January 24, 2017

Forty-two members of the (RE)Connection group at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) of South Orange gathered recently for a Playoff Football Potluck at the home of synagogue members Andrea and David Baum in Short Hills.

The (RE)Connection group was created for synagogue members approximately 45 to 60 years old who are seeking to renew their connection to TSTI and with each other, and ...

East Orange Appoints First Female Police Chief and Youngest Fire Chief in City History

EAST ORANGE, NJ - The City of East Orange is proud to announce that it has named Phyllis Bindi as the city’s first female police chief and Andre Williams as the city’s youngest fire chief. Both East Orange natives, Chiefs Bindi and Williams were publicly sworn in during a Public Safety Promotion Ceremony held at Messiah Baptist Church on Friday Jan 20, at 6 ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe - Jan. 23 to Jan. 29

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Hebrew National Beef Bologna  $11.99lb (Deli)
Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve  $11.99lb (Cheese)
Little Neck Clams $5.99dz (Freeman’s Fish)
Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread 2/$7.00
Wasa Crispbread $2.99
Navel Oranges #3107 5/ $2.00

See all ...