The Houston Fire Department Reminds Citizens to be Extra Vigilant
in Activities That May Lead to Accidental Outdoor Fires
Although the City of Houston has had some rain recently, the Houston Fire Department continues to respond to more than three times the normal number of grass fires. This past weekend (August 26 – 28), HFD responded to approximately 35 grass fires compared to about 10 grass fires during the same weekend (August 27 – 29) in 2010.
The Houston Fire Department would like to remind citizens to be extra vigilant in activities that may lead to accidental fires, including improper use of a barbeque pit or improper disposal of barbeque coals, ashes or briquettes and carelessly discarded smoking materials.
The City of Houston Fire Code prohibits all open-burning within the Houston City Limits at all times and the burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County also prohibits any outdoor open-burning including the burning of: a bonfire, rubbish fire, campfire, trench fire, or other fire in an outdoor location where fuel being burned is not contained in an approved incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbecue grill or barbecue pit.
Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.
When igniting the barbecue charcoal, citizens should use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to insure that it is okay.
Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed of.
Another cause of accidental fires which increase during times of drought are carelessly discarded cigarettes, or other smoking materials. These can smolder for hours and should be completely doused with water before discarding them. They should be discarded in a safe manner and not by being thrown out a window or tossing them on the ground.
Texas’ arson law includes felony punishment for anyone whose cigarette recklessly sets fire to a building or injures anyone. Arson is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by two to 20 years in prison, but if a person is hurt or killed or if the fire involves a church, arson is a first-degree felony, and the arsonist can face up to life in prison.