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Fire Service Leaders Urge Summer Fire Safety
10:41AM / Friday, June 07, 2024
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STOW, Mass. — State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine and Foxborough Fire Chief Michael Kelleher, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, are reminding residents to practice fire safety this season.
"Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and we want to remind everyone to play it safe as they enjoy the warm weather," said State Fire Marshal Davine. "Don't let a fire or serious burn ruin your summer.
"As we spend more time outside with friends and family, firefighters start to see more outdoor fires," said Chief Kelleher. "Sadly, many of these fires cause serious injuries and property damage – but almost all of them can be prevented by using extra caution and care."
Grilling Safety
More than 75 percent of grilling fires in Massachusetts occur between May and September, and Memorial Day is a leading day for cookouts with family and friends. Stay safe when using your gas or charcoal grill:
  • Always grill outdoors, never inside.
  • A burning grill should always be attended by an adult.
  • Never use a gas or charcoal grill on a porch, balcony, or fire escape.
  • Place grills at least 10 feet away from buildings and deck railings. Make sure grills are not under eaves or overhanging branches.
  • Gas grills may be used on first floor decks or patios only if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or it is at ground level.
  • Always keep matches, lighters, and lighter fluid away from children.
  • Create a three-foot "circle of safety" around grills. Keep children and pets at least three feet away on all sides.
When using a gas grill, open the lid before you light it to avoid the ignition of built-up propane. If you smell gas while cooking, turn off the grill, move away, and call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Do not move the grill. Always turn off the burners and close the propane cylinder when you're done cooking.
If using a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid. Do not use gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in a grill, and never add any flammable liquid to burning briquettes or hot coals. Allow the coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal. If you must dispose of ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.
Gasoline Safety
Serious gasoline-related burns peak in the summer months, with about 40 percent reported from June through August. Always be cautious when using gasoline, especially in the area of any heat source:
  • Gasoline should only be used as fuel for an engine, not as a solvent.
  • Never use gasoline to start a fire or add it to any fire.
  • Store gasoline only outside the home, such as in a locked shed, and always in an approved container. Never store gasoline in the home or basement.
  • Refuel lawnmowers, leaf blowers, mopeds, and other devices only when the engine is cool. Never refill while it is hot.
  • Keep gasoline away from all heat sources, such as smoking materials, campfires, and grills.
Smoking Safety
Smoking materials have been the leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts for decades, and there have been many fires this spring from improperly discarded smoking materials on porches and in backyards. Mulch is especially prone to combustion caused by careless smoking. Smoking fires are particularly dangerous because they may smolder undetected and then erupt into flames that grow rapidly. A fire that starts on a porch, balcony, or exterior stairway can extend to the home before smoke alarms inside detect them and alert you to the danger.
"If you still smoke, or if you have guests who do, please do it responsibly," said State Fire Marshal Davine. "Always use a deep, sturdy ashtray or a can with sand or water. Don't toss smoking materials into the mulch, leaves, grass, or planters, and don't stub them out on the porch railing or stairs. Remember to put it out, all the way, every time."
Brush and Wildland Fire Safety
Almost all outdoor fires are caused by human activity. In the warm, sunny, dry weather expected this weekend these fires will spread to dangerous sizes quickly and require numerous firefighting resources to contain and extinguish. And because more than 50 percent of Massachusetts homes are in Wildland-Urban Interface or Intermix zones, outdoor fires can easily threaten people and property.
  • Practice fire safety with grills, flammable liquids, smoking materials, and power equipment.
  • Before setting up a campfire, be sure it is permitted by checking with the local fire department.
  • Clear away dry leaves and sticks and overhanging low branches and shrubs.
  • Keep campfires small so they are easier to control and attend to them at all times.
  • Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire.
  • Make sure your campfire is out cold before leaving.
  • If using an ATV, dirt bike, or other off-road vehicle, be sure the spark arrestor is properly installed, as required by Massachusetts law.
  • Don't park a vehicle or power equipment such as a lawnmower on or near dry vegetation. A hot engine or exhaust can ignite dry grass, leaves, or debris.
"Brush and wildland fires can quickly grow to sizes that require a large response by local and regional fire departments," said Chief Kelleher. "That level of response can strain our resources and make it harder to respond to other emergencies. If you see a fire, please call 9-1-1 to report it as soon as possible."
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