Fire Caused by… Bathroom Exhaust Fan?

There are a plethora of things that can start fires. Unattended stoves? Absolutely. Candles left burning? Of course. But bathroom exhaust fans? At the beginning of November, a fire that started on the first floor of a Pennsylvania home wound up doing significant damage to the house, all thanks to the bathroom’s exhaust fan. Even scarier, the tenant used a fire extinguisher to put the flames out, which he thought he’d done, but later found that he hadn’t. The fire actually burned through the ceiling on the second floor, destroying a large portion of the roof and dropping debris into the bathrooms on that level. According to Fire Chief George Biggs Jr., the upper floor was “pretty much gutted.” The incident also caused smoke and water damage, making the home unlivable for the time being. The tenant “thought he had it knocked down,” said Biggs, yet “It got away from him.” Fortunately, the fire was under control about an hour after it was reported and no one was hurt. Fires caused by bathroom exhaust fans are rare, but they do happen. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2010, air conditioning, fans, and related equipment were involved in about 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 29 civilian deaths, 249 civilian injuries and $207 million in direct property damage. The leading ignition factors for these types of fires are mostly mechanical or electrical failures. About 33% of fires involving air conditioning, fans, or related equipment began when wire or cable insulation ignited. What’s most interesting, though, is that the leading area of origin for this type of home fire is the bathroom. In fact, 23% — nearly one in four — fires involving air conditioning or related equipment ignited there. That being said, the leading areas of origin for fatal fires are the living room and wall assembly or concealed wall space. The point here is that your bathroom exhaust fan may not be as safe as you think it is. To calculate the minimum size bathroom exhaust fan you need, you must take the volume of your room and divide it by five. Once the proper size fan has been installed, it needs to be kept clean and well maintained, as dust and lint accumulations can lead to fire...

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Bioheat Incorporated Into Bronx Academy HVAC Training by NYOHA
Dec01

Bioheat Incorporated Into Bronx Academy HVAC Training by NYOHA

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is constantly evolving as the technology and resources used in it do as well. One of the recent innovations has been the advent of Bioheat fuel, a more environmentally-friendly option to traditional oil. The appeal of this fuel has grown so considerably that the New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA) has started helping the Bronx Design and Construction Academy with teaching current students the details and importance of the new option, according to BiodieselMagazine.com. The technical Bronx academy is also receiving generous donations of 150 gallons of pure B100 Bioheat fuel and equipment from Amerigreen Energy and Schildwachter Oil Co., arranged by the NYOHA. NYOHA’s CEO and current member on the school’s HVAC Advisory Board, Rocco Lacertosa, even visited the classroom of instructor Peter Gonzalez to speak to students learning about the HVAC industry. “New York City has mandated a 2% biodiesel blend, and one of the things I’m trying to do is educate the students on Bioheat fuel and the importance of the industry going green,” Gonzalez said. “The transition to Bioheat fuel is helping New York City reduce emissions and create a healthier environment. If my students can learn about this fuel, they can help make New York a greener city.” Bioheat fuel is a blend of renewable biodiesel and traditional oilheat; it burns and costs the same as traditional oil but is much cleaner and more renewable and environmentally friendly. Alternative fuels such as these are helping move the HVAC industry forward. Other recent advances include efficiency standards for new gas furnaces; although the minimum allowed by law is 78% efficiency, some new models are even achieving 97% energy efficiency. One of the biggest points of emphasis in Gonzalez’s curriculum is in experimentation and exploration. He encourages students to play around with the ratios of biodiesel and heating oil in small quantities to test and report back on the results of different blends. It’s a practice that could end up helping to pioneer a new standard in the industry, as the New York City Council is currently considering a proposal to raise the required biodiesel blend from 2 to 5% next year and to 20% by 2030. “It is important that the blend level goes higher to make the emissions cleaner,” Gonzalez said. “Our work here parallels what the city is doing to be an environmental...

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