Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighting

More Smoking-Related Fires Starting Outside Home, MA Officials Say

Changing smoking behavior is causing more fires to start outside of homes as smokers take their cigarettes outdoors, according to Massachusetts state fire marshals.

In 2010, half of all home fires caused by smoking in the state started on the exterior of the buildings, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a report on boston.com.

Many of the fires are starting on balconies and are due to improper disposal of smoking materials. Meanwhile, smoking-related fires inside the home are on the wane in Massachusetts.

In one recent incident cited in the report, an Easter Sunday fire in a Darmouth apartment complex was started by improper disposal of smoking materials on a second-floor balcony. No one was injured, but 35 people were displaced by the fire. The structure was a total loss, with damages put at about two million dollars.

A particular problem has been people throwing cigarettes into mulch beds. These beds ignite and flames extend into the sides of structures, Coan said. He is seeking a change in the state fire code to require that mulch not be placed within 18 inches of the side of combustible commercial buildings.

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