Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fire in Landscaping Materials and Mulch

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service reminds residents to use caution and common sense when it comes to fire safety as warm weather arrives. One of the most common causes of fires this time of year is improperly discarded smoking materials.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers is urging residents to be aware of the dangers of improperly discarded cigarettes, particularly around landscaping. “The risk of a mulch fire is more common than one might expect. We have seen a steep increase in mulch fires as commercial and public facilities ban smoking inside buildings and smoking materials are discarded into landscaped areas as people enter and/or exit a building presenting a significant safety hazard,” said Chief Bowers.

In order to reduce the potential for a fire in landscaping materials and mulch, the following guidelines are recommended:

• If you smoke, PLEASE properly dispose of all smoking materials and matches.

• If you see anything smoking in a landscaped bed, put it out safely if possible and immediately report it to someone inside the building. If the burning material is not thoroughly doused with water or removed, it may re-ignite.

• Grounds maintenance crews should be aware of the conditions that are favorable for mulch fires and increase surveillance of mulched areas.

• Businesses should provide proper receptacles for smoking materials at all entrances to public buildings and in designated smoking areas. Do not use mulch in or near these areas.

• Provide a minimum of an 18-inch clearance between landscaping mulch beds and combustible building materials. Ensure proper clearance to electric devices, such as decorative lights, by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

• Do not use old planter pots that contain potting soil as an ashtray. Many mixtures include different types of fertilizers that are oxidizers and will accelerate the rate that a fire will grow.

• Although mulch helps retain soil moisture, when dry, it can become flammable. Keep landscaping moist if possible.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service also reminds citizens to always have working smoke alarms on every level of their home and a home fire escape plan. It is best to practice that plan at least twice a year – more often with small children. The plan should include two ways out of every room, a meeting place outside the home and instructions for calling 9-1-1 immediately after exiting the home. For more fire and life safety information, visit us at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe

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