According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) forty-one percent of fires in the United States are outdoor fires. Resulting in approximately 50 deaths, 875 injuries and $154 million in losses. The Grounds Guys® understand the importance of protecting a home or business. Their team has compiled simple tips to help protect your property.
Maintain a healthy greenbelt. Mow down dead grasses and weeds. A buffer zone of healthy grass around homes and buildings help retard the spread of fire. Remove dead limbs and branches from bushes and trees. Prune branches to 10’ above the ground. Don’t forget to cleanup around the property, removing debris and other unwanted items. Clean roofs and gutters annually, as leaves and other debris can accumulate over time.
As cooler weather approaches, it’s tempting to start a cozy fire. Be sure to check chimney’s annually for cracks and other defects. Sweep chimneys and remove debris. Another helpful tip is to always stack firewood away from the home.
The USFA reports, thirty-seven percent of outdoor fires derive their heat source from open flames, such as campfires or smoking material. Heat from matches and cigarettes account for 12 and 9 percent of outdoor fires, respectively.
Heat from hot or smoldering objects account for 25 percent of heat sources for outdoor fires, with heat from hot embers or ash accounting for a total of 15 percent. Always place these in a metal container for ash disposal. Allow it to sit for at least two days before disposing them.
Place a fire pit in an open space on a solid surface – never on a wooden deck or in an enclosed area. Start fires small using wood, fire logs or charcoal. Do not use an accelerant. Fires should be no wider than three feet and no higher than two feet. Avoid burning on windy days. Use a wire mesh cover to control sparks. Always keep a fire extinguisher, pail of sand or garden hose handy to smother flames if there’s trouble. When in doubt about burning in your backyard, contact your local municipality. One option outside of burning debris is to create a compost for your garden.
Every year dozens of fires are fed by decorative garden mulch. Pine needles, shredded bark and wood chips are highly flammable organic materials. Be careful to not have mulch banked too close to a home. Mulch should be at least about 18-inches from a building. A tossed cigarette on dry mulch could be a recipe for disaster. A mulch fire could cause siding to melt or allow the fire to enter the building. Avoid fires by putting cigarettes out in approved containers, and, if possible, douse cigarettes with water before disposing. Remember to keep mulch moist, especially during drier times of the year. When watering the lawn, just add a little to mulch to help keep it moist.
Allow lawn tractors or mowers to cool down outside, before storing in a shed or garage. Clean and clear mowers or tractors of all accumulated lawn debris, prior to storing, as dried grass near heated areas may cause a fire. Keep gas and fuel containers stored in well-ventilated outdoor storage areas. Service tractors or mowers annually, by a professional.
Keep a fire extinguisher mounted and easily accessible in the garage, kitchen and outdoor grilling areas. Install smoke alarms in storage sheds and garages, as well. Don’t forget to test home smoke alarms monthly. Remember to change their batteries annually. One easy way to remind you is to change batteries during Daylight Savings times.
Another helpful tip to help prevent fire is to schedule a professional technician, such as Aire Serv, to service air conditioning units annually. Dryers have also been known to be the cause of fires. Check exhaust hoses on clothes dryers for accumulated lint. Don’t forget to have appliances serviced annually by a professional, such as Mr. Appliance.
October 7 th through the 13 th is National Fire Prevention Week. Fire safety is an important factor to protect a home, business and a family. Use this opportunity to develop and discuss a fire drill with family members or employees and coworkers. It could mean all the difference.