San Ramon Valley Fire Offers Summer Fire Prevention Tips

Fire officials want to reduce your risk of fire during the summer months.

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and we begin to look forward to the warm temperatures, time with family and friends, picnics, and backyard barbeques. It is also a time of year that we complete outdoor projects and make improvements to our homes.  

Some of these typical summer activities can put our homes and family at risk for fire. San Ramon Valley Firefighters want all residents to enjoy a summer of fun, not a summer of fire.  

Keep the following tips in mind to reduce your risk:

Landscape mulch and bark fires

Valley residents take great pride in their outdoor spaces and take special care to plant shrubs, ground covers and flowering plants to beautify their homes. Did you know that the mulch or bark that you place in your planting beds can cause a fire or can help a fire spread more rapidly?  

Thousands of mulch fires are reported annually throughout the United States.  Mulch fires occur year-round but primarily in the summer when the temperatures are higher and there is little rainfall. As a result, landscaping materials become dried out, allowing for easy ignition. Keep the following in mind when it come to mulch and bark around your home:

  • Provide proper clearance for electric devices such as decorative lights by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep landscaped mulch beds moist, if possible.
  • Use noncombustible mulch such as rock or pea gravel around the gas meter and next to the combustible portions of the structure.
  • Use only the manufacturer’s recommended size/wattage for yard light bulbs.
  • Use only electrical devices and cords listed for outdoor use, and follow the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Consider replacing landscaping mulch with decorative stone. 

Oily Rags – Hang them to Dry

Be cautious when disposing of oily rags after using them to complete wood-finishing or other household projects, such as staining your deck or refinishing your patio furniture.  Properly drying the rags prior to throwing them away will eliminate the possibility of fire through spontaneous combustion.  According to the NFPA on average over 14,000 spontaneous combustion fires are reported each year and cause millions of dollars in damage.  If you are planning a staining project, please protect you and your family by following these simple steps:

  • Anytime you have an oily rag left over from a project, hang it up to dry, outdoors.  You can use a clothesline or fence, be sure to hang each rag individually and avoid piling them on top of each other. 
  • If you must dry them indoors be sure to keep them away from heat sources such as water heaters or furnaces.
  • As always follow the manufacturer’s directions on proper use, storage and disposal.

Don’t let the BBQ burn on…

Backyard barbeques are a summer staple, make sure that the fun does not lead to fire by ensuring the coals are cooled and disposed of properly.  The United States Fire Administration urges you to douse the coals with plenty of water and stir them to ensure that the fire is completely out.  Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers, choose a metal container instead.

San Ramon Valley Firefighters appreciate your assistance in keeping our community safe and helping to reduce the risk of fire in the Valley.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Fire Prevention Division at (925) 838-6600.

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is an internationally-accredited special district that provides all-risk fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, the Town of Danville, Diablo, the City of San Ramon, the southern area of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley, in Northern California (Contra Costa County). The District’s service area encompasses approximately 155 square miles and serves a population of 170,000.



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