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Debunking Six Fire Myths: Fact vs. Fiction

With fire safety and prevention, myths and truths mingle together and cause confusion.  What is fact?  What is fiction?  The Bakersfield Fire Department debunks six common fire myths to help keep our community and families safe.

Myth #1:  A smoke alarm provides all the protection you need.

Fact: Smoke detectors are the perfect tool to alert occupants when a fire breaks out, but they do nothing in helping put out the flames. Albeit a vital alarming device, homeowners need more to their fire prevention plan than just a functioning smoke alarm to keep them safe. Families need an escape plan, fire extinguishers, and certain circumstances even a sprinkler system.

Myth #2:  Newer homes are safer than older homes.

Fact:  The age of a home is a poor predictor of a potential fire.  Statistically, the only increase in fires for older homes is related to outdated electrical wiring.  Any fire regardless of the age of the home can be potentially life-threatening.

Myth #3:  If the inside of your home is engulfed in flames, it’s bright and easy to see everything.

Fact:  During a fire, it’s not like in the movies where firefighters can see the entire layout of the room.  In reality, when a room is on fire, it’s filled with thick black smoke and becomes pitch-dark extremely fast.  You can barely see your hand in front of your face.  Drop to the ground for two reasons:  to avoid breathing in the dangerous smoke and to feel your way out of the house to safety.  

Myth #4:  It is normal for children to play with fire.

Fact:  Children’s curiosity about fire is completely normal; however, playing with fire is not.  If a child plays with fire without an adult’s knowledge, approval, or supervision, a real problem can occur.  Make sure to teach your children the dangers of fire as well as proper fire safety and prevention.

Myth #5:  You can control a small fire.

Fact:  Many people think that a small fire is manageable and doesn’t need much supervision.  Wrong.  Most catastrophic fires start small and can become uncontrollable quickly.  Follow all fire safety rules and precautions no matter what the size of the fire.

Myth #6:  People always panic in a fire.

Fact:  When a fire breaks out, most people think they will panic and behave irrationally; but, researchers have proven that the opposite can be true.  Most people do not act inappropriately during a crisis if they are prepared.  What causes people to panic is the stress of being unprepared and not having a plan.  The best way to ensure that you remain level-headed is to have a fire safety plan of action!

For more information and additional safety tips from the Bakersfield FIRE Department, please visit

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