Fire safety for the summer

16 Jun 2005 | Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

For Marines and sailors, the barracks can hold most of the comforts of home; TVs, microwaves, computers and appliances. However, if abused, they can quickly change from a comfort to a fire hazard.

Being aware of fire hazards in the barracks, and knowing how to avoid them, can keep everyone in the barracks safe and save you money.

Overloaded electrical outlets, hot plates, candles and smoldering cigarettes are just a few of the fire hazards that should always be avoided, according to Robert Nichols, the assistant fire prevention chief with Fire and Emergency Services Division, Installation Safety and Security, MCB.

Surge protectors can be used in barracks as long as multiple surge protectors are not linked together, according to Nichols. Surge protectors that are linked together can overheat potentially causing other flammable material such as carpet and cardboard to light on fire.

Hotplates, candles and smoking are prohibited in the barracks, according to Nichols. Hotplates don’t have automatic shutoffs and, if unattended, can start fires. Microwaves are the only authorized cooking appliance in the barracks. Burning candles and incense can also be hazardous when left unattended and are also prohibited in the barracks.

“Carelessness is the number one cause of fires,” Nichols said.
Service members must also be careful with the emergency fire equipment in their barracks room, according to Nichols.

Damaging or turning off smoke detectors is also banned and very dangerous, according to Nichols. Marines may not hang objects from the sprinkler systems in their rooms because the sprinkler can break causing water to flow into the room and damage personal electronics, furniture and the building. A damaged smoke detector or sprinkler not only puts the occupants of that room in danger but also the other residents in the barracks.

With summer approaching and more Marines and sailors holding barbeques outside the barracks, there are precautions they must take if they decide to put on the cook’s hat.

Grilling with charcoal can be dangerous if the coals are not disposed of properly, according to Philip D. Saunders the deputy fire chief with Fire and Emergency Services Division, Installation Safety and Security.

“We have seen charcoal that was thought to be out burst into flames 24 hours later,” Saunders said.

Charcoal should be left to cool then submerged in water by putting it into a nonflammable bucket of water, according to Saunders. It is also import to have a nearby water source like a bucket of water or a hose.

The charcoal should be disposed of in a place with little vegetation and should not be disposed near other flammable materials, according to Saunders.

When grilling with propane gas, it is also important to use proper lighting techniques and checking the gas tanks for leaks and corrosion, according to Saunders.

Cleaning the grills and doing proper maintenance on personal grills also reduces fire risks by removing food residue that could catch fire, according to Saunders. Grills must also be at least 25 feet away from buildings on base when cooking.

Marines and sailors can also avoid fire hazards in their room by keeping it clean, according to Nichols. The less amount of material spread out on the floor and having the trash taken out reduces the chance of fire spreading quickly throughout the room.

By following these guidelines and using common sense Marines and sailors can enjoy a safe summer at the barracks.