WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – During the winter, when it’s cold, staying warm is something all of us think about. Firefighters will tell you their recommendations to be smart, so you don’t accidentally cause a fire, but how well do they follow those recommendations? ABC4 News went out to see how meticulous they need to be, in this edition of Behind the Badge.

When it gets as cold as it’s been outside recently, firefighters often talk about being smart to safely stay warm.

“Think about what you would personally do if the heat went out. Would you have appropriate things to keep you warm?” said Batt. Chief R.L. Duke, Wasatch Co. Fire Department.

There are good reasons firefighters like Wasatch County Battalion Chief R.L. Duke wants you to do it right. In the winter of 2019 separate gas leaks caused two explosions at two cabins in the county’s Timberlake’s neighborhood, reducing one to a pile of rubble – a smoking, visual reminder of why firefighters have a long list of fire safety recommendations.

“We have to worry about our cooking clearances, we have to worry about carbon monoxide, we worry about the clearances around our water heater,” said Duke.

Things they tell you to do, firefighters follow too. It’s why Battalion Chief Duke showed us around Wasatch County’s Jordanelle Fire Station #52 to share how they’re just as precautious as you should be with your house.

“Our house is a lot like your home, sometimes it’s just a bit bigger scale,” said Duke.

Checking out the fire station’s water heaters, they keep it clear of anything that may potentially cause a fire.
“With a gas appliance like a water heater, we want to make sure we have a 36-inch clearance,” he said.

Like the cabins that exploded, they have an outdoor propane tank, under the ground they can use for heat, easily marked by a red and white pole, which they say can help to try to avoid a massive explosion.  

“We have a buried tank here that we have marked so if we had more snow, we would be able to find it,” Duke said.

They keep their outdoor BBQs away from the station, and always turn them off.

“We keep our grill off until we need it, with our wood smoker which is really popular these days we keep it unplugged,” he said.

The space heaters, in their chilly front reception area, are out from under the desk and clear of potentially fire-causing clutter. 

“You can see that we try to maintain some clearance around that device,” Duke said.

Firefighters follow these reminders not just to prevent fires, but to be a voice you can trust.  
“All those things are important for us to practice what we preach,” he said.

That way when you’re shivering in the cold, how you choose to keep warm you can know will also keep you safe.