'Flashover Fires' Cut Down The Time Firefighters Have To Make Rescues

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could your furniture be putting you in danger of becoming trapped by fire? Experts say yes.

“The furnishings, they’ll get hot; the walls will super-heat, and when those things start to get hot enough, they reach ignition temperature and erupt into flames,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Derek Alkonis said.

As the heat intensifies, the furniture and smoke can ignite into a dangerous “flashover,” caused by synthetic materials found in the furniture, CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois reported.

“These synthetic materials liberate a lot of heat,” Alkonis said.

A fire set in a room filled with synthetic furniture can reach flashover in less than four minutes. That rate is dramatically slowed in a room filled with furniture made out of natural material.

Experts told CBS 2 that the increased flashover rate means that they now have less time to rescue fire victims.

“That terrifies me, really. That’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” said Crown Heights resident Jack Sherman.

Firefighters have developed techniques to slow the flashover, and there are steps that can be taken to protect your family.

“Have working smoke alarms and close your door when you go to sleep,” Alkonis suggests.

Newer windows may also contribute to flashover fires, because they keep heat trapped inside homes.

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