Posts Tagged ‘fire insurance’

New Fire Safety Rule in Effect in Massachusetts

September 14th, 2012 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, homeowners insurance

In an effort to reduce the number of house fires that began as burning mulch, and to avoid a greater number of hazard insurance claims, the state of Massachusetts has enacted a new fire safety rule that went into effect on September 1st.

Specifically, Massachusetts homeowners and landscapers are now banned from using wood landscaping mulch within eighteen inches of the base of any vinyl- or wood-sided buildings. Though small residential buildings with fewer than six units are technically exempt from the ban, it is safer not to have wood mulch close to the base of any building.

This information comes from Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, who says that the safest sort of groundcover to put near outside walls is crushed rock, and who reminds the owners of office buildings that providing a safe place for smokers to toss their cigarettes, such as sand-based disposal stations outside the doors of a building, will discourage them from dropping their cigarettes into the mulch at all.

The fire that led to this ban was a cigarette-sparked mulch fire at a Peabody apartment complex in 2008, which caused nearly $7 million in damage. A similar fire that occurred last April forced the evacuation of an assisted living center in Braintree, and resulted in some of the residents suffering from smoke inhalation.

While Coan didn’t explicitly advise it, we’d like to take a moment and remind everyone to review the fire portion of their homeowners policies at least once a year.

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Warm Weather Means MORE Chimney Fires in Vermont.

February 9th, 2012 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, insurance news

Vermont is having an unseasonably warm winter, and Fire Chief Doug Winot, of Townshend, says that means an increase in chimney fires.

How does one follow the other? Well, according to an interview Winot did with the Brattleboro Reformer when people burn green wood, as opposed to dried firewood, or have a fire that doesn’t burn hot enough, it creates highly flammable “black glaze,” which builds up inside chimneys. Then, when people shut down their wood stoves because the weather is warm, the sludge catches on fire, closes off the chimney, and spreads into the partition walls.

Already, Winot says, there have been two chimney fires caused by this in the past week.

The solution? Have your chimney cleaned every two or three months, and keep your fire insurance up to date.

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Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

November 23rd, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in advice and how-tos, fire insurance

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. It’s a day filled with food and festive spirits, but it’s also the top day of the year for cooking-related accidents and injuries, and one of the most common causes of them is the turkey fryer. Let’s face it: anything that involves a vat of boiling oil is inherently dangerous.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t use a fryer – after all, crispy turkey skin is one of our favorite once-a-year guilty pleasures, as well, but we think you should boost your fire insurance policy before you start to cook, have a first aid kit handy, and follow these safety tips, from Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine:

  • Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills.
  • Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures.
  • Never use the fryer in, on, or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
  • Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns.
  • Never cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing bird.
  • Protect your eyes with goggles or glasses.
  • Immediately turn off the fryer if the oil begins to smoke.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion.
  • Don’t overfill fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
  • Do not use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire.
  • If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.

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Oklahoma at Extreme Risk for Wildfires

August 3rd, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance

Oklahomans had better update their fire insurance policies, if the news from state forester George Geissler is accurate. He says that the heat and drought currently holding the state hostage could create a wildfire crises there for the rest of the summer. He added that both the western rangeland and eastern wooded hills are dangerously dry, and that a significant amount of rain is needed to break the drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the eastern third of Oklahoma is in a “severe” drought, except for regions far to the northeast and southeast, where the rating of the drought is merely “moderate,” but central Oklahoma’s drought is considered “extreme,” and western Oklahoma has a drought rating of exceptional, as in “exceptionally bad.”

Unfortunately, there is no rain likely to fall on the parched state. Rick Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist said, “We’re not seeing any hopeful signs for relief anywhere in the near future.”

Geissler elaborated on the situation, explaining that over 150,000 acres of Oklahoma have already been burned by wildfires this year, and that the state is now at moisture levels that are so low that they’ve reached, “…that critical tipping point when a small spark can start a fire.”

While Oklahoma summers aren’t usually terribly windy, a normal 10-15 mph south wind could cause a fire to burn with a lot of intensity, Geissler explained. He added that firefighters across the state are prepared for the worst possible conditions, and said that the state forestry service has planes that can drop water, as well as helicopters that the Oklahoma National Guard will make available, if needed.

The state also has federal forest service aid available. A plane from Abilene, TX recently flew to the Wichita Mountains in just over half an hour to help with firefighting efforts there, Geissler said.

He added, however, that the public needs to be incredibly cautious in order to prevent fires, emphasizing, “As long as people keep in mind that if they do anything that involves a spark — grilling to cook, mowing and hitting a rock, whatever it is — they should be very cautious of their surroundings.”

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NC Residents Advised to Evacuate

June 27th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, homeowners insurance

On Friday, North Carolina residents with homes near the Pender and Onslow county line have been advised to participate in a voluntary evacuation to avoid a spreading wildfire, which, as of Thursday, had burned about 20,000 acres.

Fire officials said that the wildfire began over the weekend of June 18th, in the Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County, and was probably sparked by a strike of lightning.

The evacuation advisory applies to the residents of roughly forty homes in the area north of Holly Ridge and along the west side of U.S. 17 heading into Pender County. There are emergency shelters open at both Southwest Middle and Topsail Elementary Schools.

Those who are evacuating should be cautious that some roads have been closed because of limited visibility and smoke, while everyone should be warned that the area has poor air quality because of smoke, and those with lung problems should avoid any exertion while out-of doors.

If you must evacuate, be sure to bring vital documents, including a copy of your fire insurance policy.

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Texas Wildfires Still Burning

April 20th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, homeowners insurance

From flooding to hailstorms to fire, it seems the central United States can’t catch a break this week. In today’s installment of Environmental Hazards and You, it’s the latter risk that is running rampant, this time in Texas.

As is typical in a La Nina year, Texas had an extremely dry winter, and the spring has been warmer and dryer than is usual, as well. This, combined with all the violent windstorms, is a fire threat waiting to happen. Except it’s not waiting. So far, almost 1.8 million acres of land have been seared this year, and that’s not all in the open plains. Instead, there are residential areas being burned, including 150 upscale homes in Possum Kingdom Lake, which is about seventy miles west of Fort Worth. Two days ago, 400 Palo Pinto residents (50 miles west of Fort Worth) were ordered to evacuate, and the inmates of the county jail were moved to other facilities, as well.

In another part of the state, there were 200 families who were forced to evacuate from a neighborhood in Austin, after a separate fire was caused by a homeless man’s untended campfire and high winds.

So far, none of the fires (there are more) are completely contained, but you can bet residents of Texas who are both east and west of the fires are taking this as an object lesson in the need for homeowners and fire insurance coverage.

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Spring Fire Season Begins in Virginia

February 16th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance

On Tuesday the State of Virginia enacted a ban on the outdoor burning of brush, officially marking the beginning of the spring fire season, which runs through April.

According to state law, burning anything withing 300 feet of woodlands, fields, or any other possible fuel source is also prohibited.

Violators face a fine of up to $500. Anyone allowing a fire to escape is liable for the cost of fighting to fire, as well as any damage to others’ property.

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, last year’s fire season saw 897 separate fires which burned roughly 8,500 acres.

Whether or not you live in Virginia, or plan to burn brush, it’s a good idea to mark the beginning of fire season by evaluating your fire insurance coverage.

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