By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Reporter
(March 2, 2023) Members of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department hit the streets this week to talk to neighbors on Moby Dick Drive and Seafarer Lane after the deadly fire took the life of the home’s sole occupant at the time, 62-year-old Timothy Cooper.
“We are here to answer questions. We want to help the neighbors understand what happened with the fire. We also want to make sure that every house has a working smoke detector,” OPVFD Chief Steve Grunewald said.
“The [Feb. 21] fire is still under investigation by the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s office,” he said. “But we believe the fire originated in the laundry room, possibly the dryer.” Smoke alarms were present in the house.
“Dryer maintenance is important. Check your lint traps and make sure your flue is free of lint once a month,” Grunewald advised residents.
He also reminded residents not to park next to a fire hydrant. In the event of an emergency, it can add minutes to work around a vehicle to access water.
“It’s also important to make sure you have a planned way out of your home,” added Grunewald.
The fire department was on the site of the fire within three minutes of receiving the call. “We got water on the fire in less than five minutes,” Grunewald said. “We don’t know when the fire started compared to when we got the call. We kept it to the house of origin and pulled a line to protect the neighbor’s house. This is what we train for.”
“With all of these trees, we were very lucky. The fire department did an amazing job. Their quick response saved the houses around it,” said neighbor Marylou Kogan. Members of the OPVFD were handing out a fire safety checklist for homeowners as they went door to door in the neighborhood.
Three board members, Doug Parks, Rick Farr and Monica Rakowski joined the department representatives. “We want to make sure the fire department has all the resources it needs to be successful,” Farr said.
“We are here to show support for the community and for the fire department,” said Parks. “Our surveys always show that safety is a top priority for the community.”
The fact sheet provided by the fire department included tips for caring for your clothes dryer.
Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
Do not use the dryer without a lint filter. Clean the lint filter before and after each cycle.
Do not forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up.
Check the venting system behind the dryer to make sure that it is not damaged, crushed or restricted.
Make sure that the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is operating.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryer fires are responsible for seven deaths, 344 civilian injuries, and $233 million in property damage annually.
The OPVFD also encourages people to have smoke alarms on every level of their home and inside and outside sleeping areas.
“Thankfully every house we visited had working detectors, however we handed out approximately 10 detectors to neighbors who met us while we were walking,” said Joe Enste, OPVFD public inform officer.