The Most Dangerous Time Of The Year


Keep fire safety in mind when heating your home in the winter months ahead. December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires making it the most dangerous time of the year. Overall, heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening. The winter season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Have working fire extinguishers.

Based on 2007-2011 annual averages:

  • Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • Half (50%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

For more information on Fire Safety, view our post on  Home Fire Safety

From all of us here at Provencher & Company, please have a warm & SAFE winter season!


So, you think you know Fire Insurance?

So, you think you know Fire Insurance?


At the turn of the Last Century, the best minds in Fire Insurance were directed to the riveting  issue of apportionment of losses under non-concurrent policies. As the respected W. N. Bament, General Adjuster of the Home Insurance Company wrote in 1922: “ It has commanded the attention on the fire insurance business for nearly a century, and although many rules have been devised, the prospect of discovering the philosopher’s stone is a remote as ever. “ 


In the name of fame, glory and a gift card, which of the following was 
NOT an accepted method of apportionment?
The Reading Rule
The Albany Rule
Gradual  Reduction Rule
The Modified Reading Rule
The Limited Inability Rule
The Modified Finn Rule
The Kottabos Rule
The Continuity Error
The Rice Rule
The Giesse Rule
The Morristown Rule

Submit your answer via LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook comment and we will do a random drawing of the correct answers to determine the winner of a gift card courtesy of Provencher & Company. Drawing will be held September 30, 2014.

Jerry Provencher
CEO/Executive General Adjuster

Provencher & Company
Professional Claim Services

 *Winning recipient must agree to have their name publicly announced on social media in order to receive the prize.*

The First Catastrophe Office

Following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 the fire loss adjusters set up an office where they could meet, compare notes, and confer about the hundreds of losses which required adjustment. They agreed on the Sherman House, on West Madison Street and for months afterwards frequent meetings were held and claimants by the hundred were interviewed, the claims adjusted and losses paid. It was a sort of a storm office and the adjusters organized to jointly employed clerks, stenographers and, appraisers.

During the busy days of the work of adjusting, the owner/editor of  The Times newspaper called to see about his loss, and finding a large crowd of people waiting for a similar purpose he became impatient. In those days as in ours, Important Things happen to Important People, and he repaired to his sanctum, publishing a sensational editorial about the delay and red tape in getting his loss adjusted. He had apparently been told that he would have to await his turn; however, he closed his editorial by stating that there ought to be inscribed over the door of the catastrophe office the words, “Who enters here leaves hope behind;” and also made use of the well-known Latin quotation, “Soc Et Tu Um”.

The adjusters, apparently delighted with the pomposity, concocted the idea of having a little gold souvenir badge made with the inscription “Soc Et Tu Um” and presented one to each adjuster of the office. It is reported the badges were highly prized and worn as a kind of lapel pin for many years. 

Contributed by:
Jerry Provencher
CEO/Executive General Adjuster

Did the Cow Start the Fire?

Modern day forensic investigations have questioned the origin of The Great Chicago Fire as being the much maligned Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. However, Phoenix Insurance Company General Adjuster Robert S. Critchell confirmed he interviewed Mrs. O’Leary following the fire and he was “…informed by her in rather an ungracious way that the story was true. “

Recollections of a Fire Insurance Man, Press of Rogers & Hall Co., 1909


Contributed by:
Jerry Provencher

CEO/Executive General Adjuster

Did you know…?

Did you know…?
Cleanup at Clark and Madison Streets after Chicago Fire, IL, 1871.
The reason a small fire turned into a $60M conflagration in Boston in 1871 was “epizootic”…. A disease that so disabled horses that they could not pull the fire wagons and only three self-propelled fire engines were available to fight the fires that destroyed the business district.
Contributed by:
CEO/Executive General Adjuster

Trial by Fire: Junk Science

As every adjuster knows, finding the cause of a fire can help pursue subrogation or aid in the criminal investigation of those deemed responsible. However, with a more thorough knowledge of the science behind fires, what most of us were taught has radically changed. The following story is an example of how old science convicted an innocent man and how the new science helped free him.
What remained of the Gavitt’s home after a fire on March 9, 1985
For the 26 years David Lee Gavitt sat in a Michigan prison, he told everyone who would listen that he did not set the fire that killed his wife and two baby girls. Nearly 25 years would pass before some of the nation’s top fire experts would tell him they believed him.
“David’s case was the classic example of a bad arson case,” said John Lentini, a leading fire scientist who reviewed Gavitt’s case during the effort to get his conviction overturned. “People jumped to conclusions.”
Since Gavitt’s conviction in 1986, the field of fire investigation has been turned on its head. Scientists and investigators have discovered that features long considered signs of a fire intentionally set, in fact also occur during accidents. This has prompted the re-examination of arson convictions across the country that may have been based on bad science.
To read the story by in its entirety, click here

Emerging Issues: Marijuana, Fires & Explosions

There is obviously a trend today to legalize the use of marijuana for medical treatments and to assist those undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. These are positive steps for those involved. 


However, in Colorado and Washington, not only has the medical use been decriminalized by these states, but its general use has also been legalized. 
As a result of the legalization of marijuana for general use, users and purveyors are seeking stronger alternatives to smoking or ingesting the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant. One such alternative is the production of “hash oil” or “honey oil”. This alternative has raised great concern because it is produced by pouring butane through the marijuana. Yes, butane. As a result, there are new variety of coverage questions emerging that the article Marijuana, Fires & Explosions by Thomas Mallin, President & CEO of Property Loss Research Bureau, has summarized for all adjusters.