I thought that I would write about the things that cause fires on the outside of our homes. The weather has finally changed, ushering in outdoor activities. Since more and more people are going outside, it is important to think about those things that can cause a fire on the outside. As always, my list will not cover everything that might happen, but it is designed to make the readers think about their homes and potential issues.
I had originally titled this “The Deck,” but it is about any fire on the outside of a home. Your deck is a place where people gather and hang out. Grills will be in high gear this summer, weather permitting. Grills break down with use. They always build up grease, which causes the grill to catch fire. It is important to maintain your grill and remember that cooking on it is just like cooking in your kitchen; it requires your undivided attention. While I am talking about grills, keep in mind that it is against Chesterfield County ordinance to use a grill on the balcony of any apartment complex.
A source of fire on your deck, front porch or mulched flower beds can be the improper discarding of smoking materials. Cigarettes burn at 550 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough heat to start a fire. Improperly discarded cigarettes can cause problems inside or outside of the house. Many significant fires have occurred due to this. I responded to some significant fires on the side of the interstate because of improperly discarded smoking materials. If you are tossing your cigarette butts on your deck or around your house, you are playing with a ticking time bomb.
Anywhere that there is electricity, there is the possibility of an electrical malfunction. A light switch, an outlet or a porch light can all lead to a fire. I remember a fire at an apartment complex in northern Chesterfield that was caused by a T-shirt being placed over a porch light. If you have any electrical problem, then you either need to fix it or get it fixed. Your deck and vinyl siding will burn when an unwanted heat source impacts them. If you are going to work on a switch or outlet, be sure to turn the power off at your electrical panel box. Do not assume that you have turned the right breaker off; check it by plugging something in or using an electrical tester.
Another source of fire is an outside fireplace or any other flame-producing item. It may seem to be common sense, but I believe that common sense gets thrown out the proverbial window, especially when alcohol is involved. Any contained fire on a deck is a potential source of the deck catching on fire.
Again, my list is only a smattering of some of the things that could cause you an outdoor fire problem. I hope that you have a great spring and summer, but I also want to emphasize fire safety. If you want firefighters to come to your barbecue, then go to the fire station and invite them. Don’t make firefighters your uninvited guests because your outdoor activity got out of control and lit your house off. A barbecue, defined by a firefighter who once worked for me, was fire coming from two windows. Don’t let this be you.