By Edward Chavez, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire PreventionJune 7, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- We are just around the corner from summertime fun time, so let's look at some common missteps that we have seen lately at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Prevention office.
When summer arrives in the Pacific Northwest, wildfires will be the top story on many news outlets, as many people have already witnessed. On JBLM, all the houses are controlled and maintained by Lincoln Residential, so anything that has to do with removing tree limbs, bushes, high grass and any discarded vegetation should be directed to them.
For those people living off base, here is some helpful information provided by the National Fire Protection Association.
• Clear off pine needles, dead leaves or anything that can burn off decks and gutters along fence lines.
• Screen and seal, check around your house that could allow flying embers into your house and close them up.
• Trim any scrub or tree limbs that are within 5 feet of the house.
• Rake the mulch that touches your house, decks or fences where flying embers could land.
• Remove anything that can burn that is within 30 feet of the house.
Camping is another summertime activity that we, in the Pacific Northwest enjoy. So many of the home fire safety tips can and should be practiced at campsites.
• Never leave cooking unattended.
• Have a valid escape plan, which may include getting information from the campground or park where you're staying.
• See if there is any special fire precautions, such as burn restrictions.
Campfires are usually an important part of camping. Many use it to cook or just relax.
Before you start a campfire at your campsite, ensure you find out if it's authorized. On base, the JBLM regulation states, "Campfires at designated JBLM recreation areas are allowed without permit, for burning natural fuels only when the size does not exceed 4 feet in diameter, 3 feet in height and is not within 50 feet of any structure. All fires must be attended at all times and extinguished before leaving the campsite."
Always have something that can extinguish the fire if it gets out of hand. Never leave any fire unattended and never turn in for the night until the campfire is fully extinguished.
We would like to remind everyone that the number one cause of fires in all houses are still kitchen fires. At JBLM, we were fortunate to go 18 months without any reportable fires.
Then we had four fires in two weeks -- three of which were kitchen fires. So let's take a look at common threads in these kitchen fires.
• Ensure you never leave cooking unattended.
• Double check that the burners are off before leaving the kitchen.
• Never store anything on top of the range.
The fourth fire was possibly the result of smoking material that caught items in garage on fire. It's a good practice to not smoke near anything that could readily burn and, when done, dispose the smoking material in a proper container.
The final item we need to cover is the use of grills -- gas or charcoal. Keep them at least 15 feet from any structure. Again never leave unattended, keep children and pets away and have an extinguishing source handy.
Many weekend chefs try to grill outside and still prepare items inside, but this could lead to a very hazardous situation, especially if frying is involved. Preplanning is important, and ensure someone is in kitchen while someone is outside when cooking in both places.
As always, the use of fireworks on JBLM is prohibited.
Have a great summer and enjoy it safely, just take a minute to plan the event.
If you do need us we are only a phone call away. Don't hesitate to call 911 for any emergencies.
For more information, call 253-966-7164 or check out our Facebook page at Lewis-McChord Fire and Emergency Services.