The City of Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services has implemented a program they call “Keep the Wreath Green” emphasizing fire safety. Look for the wreaths lit with green bulbs at every Fire Station. If there are no structure fires during the holiday season the wreath will remain lit with only green bulbs. If a structure fire occurs during this holiday season one of the green bulbs will be replaced with a red bulb. It’s a quick visual reminder of fire safety in Richmond. The Fire Department is anticipating a successful fire safety campaign this holiday season.
Fireplaces: Before starting your fire, be sure to remove all paper and wood decorations from the immediate area and make certain the flue is open. Avoid prolonged over-firing. This may ignite the structure through overheated hearth or fireplace walls where the mortar has become dried and dropped out because of excessive heat. Never use flammable liquids to light the fire. Always keep the fire box area clean of ashes and embers and make sure they are completely cooled before taking them into a storage area. Avoid burning garbage, dried decorations, wrapping paper, etc. in fireplaces as these burn with a very hot flame and may ignite accumulated creosote or cause damage to the chimney itself. It is also extremely important to have your chimney cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every year.
Candles: The use of candles during the holiday season has increased drastically over the years. When using candles always make sure that the candles are not close to combustible materials such as curtains or decorations. Make sure all candles are snuffed out before retiring or leaving your home.
Lights: Use only lights that have been tested for safety. These can be identified by the attached label from a listing agency such as UL. Check the labels on lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and do not use more than the number of light sets recommended in one circuit. Always turn off lights when you retire for the evening or leave your home. A short circuit in any electrical equipment could cause a fire.
Trees: Artificial Christmas trees should bear a listing label. Some unlabeled trees burn with extreme intensity. Do not rely on chemical coatings or sprays to make your live trees flame resistant. When shopping for a live tree, follow these safety guidelines:
- A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry one. To check for freshness, observe color and scent. Feel the needles; they shouldn’t come off in your hand. A fresh tree is deep green in color and has a strong scent of pine. The trunk butt of a fresh tree should be sticky with sap. After you get the tree home, cut a half-inch off the trunk and keep plenty of water in the stand throughout the season.
- Place your Christmas tree in a location away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Be sure that it is out of the traffic pattern and primary evacuation route in case of an emergency.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
- Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding, or flush them down the toilet.
- After a party, always check on, between, and under upholstery and cushions and inside trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet). When smokers visit your home, ask them to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
Holiday Decorating & Lighting:
- Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
- Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
- Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords.
- Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
- Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation (i.e., using clips, not nails).
- Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.
The Richmond Fire Department installs free smoke detectors for the citizens of Richmond.
- To request a free Smoke Detector or a free Home Safety Survey, please call: 646-1526. Residents of the Richmond Metro Area can also receive a free smoke detector by calling 888-537-5967. If you have fire safety questions, please contact the City of Richmond Fire Marshal’s Office at 646-6640.