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Fire safety tips for your home

Fire prevention is just as important as fire fighting. Please follow these tips at home.

Perhaps more important than firefighting itself in many modern industrial countries is fire prevention. Firefighters in the US are trained in basic fire prevention methods, and fire companies are assigned inspection districts in which they attempt to prevent or correct unsafe conditions.

Fire departments are charged with enforcement of the local fire prevention code and of state fire laws and regulations. The Fire Prevention Division, in the Boston Fire Department, directs fire prevention activities.

It handles the more technical fire prevention problems, maintains appropriate records, grants permits, investigates the causes of fires, and conducts public education programs. All commercial or multiple-dwelling buildings are inspected at regular intervals, and orders are issued for the correction of violations of fire laws. If necessary, court action is taken to compel compliance.

Home safety questions

Please remember these questions to keep your home and your family safe from fires.

  • Are fueling-burning space heaters and appliances properly installed and used?
  • Are all space heaters placed away from traffic? Are children and elderly persons cautioned to keep their clothing away?
  • Has the family been cautioned not to use flammable liquids, like gasoline, to start or freshen a fire (or for cleaning purposes)?
  • Is the fireplace equipped with a metal fire screen or heat-tempered glass doors?
  • Since portable gas and oil heaters in fireplaces use up oxygen as they burn, do you provide proper ventilation when they are in use?
  • Are proper clearances provided between space heaters and curtains, bedding, and furniture?
  • Do you stop members of your household from smoking in bed?
  • Do you check after others to see that no cigarette butts are lodged in upholstered furniture where they can smolder unseen at night?
  • Are matches and lighters kept away from small children?
  • Do you dispose of smoking materials carefully (not in waste baskets) and keep large, safe ashtrays wherever people smoke?
  • Do you have a qualified electrician install or extend your wiring?
  • Are there enough electrical outlets in every room and special circuits for heavy-duty appliances such as space heaters and air conditioners?
  • Are all electrical cords out in the open — not run under rugs, over hooks, or through door openings? Are they checked routinely for wear?
  • Is the right size fuse in each socket in the fuse box, and do you replace fuses with ones that are the same size?
  • Children get burned climbing on the stove to reach an item overhead. Do you store cookies, cereal, or other "bait," away from the stove?
  • Do you keep your basement, closets, garage, and yard clear of combustibles like papers, cartons, old furniture, or old rags?
  • Are gasoline and flammable liquids stored in safety cans (never glass jugs, discarded bleach bottles, or other makeshift containers) and away from heat, sparks, and children?
  • Is paint kept in tightly-closed metal containers?
  • Are furnace, stove, and smoke pipes far enough from combustible walls and ceilings, and in good repair?
  • Is the heating equipment checked yearly by a serviceman?
  • Is the chimney cleaned and checked regularly?
  • For safety against chimney and other sparks, is the roof covering fire retardant?
  • Do all your appliances carry the seal of a testing laboratory?
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