Barrie firefighters provide garage fire prevention tips following string of incidents

'Keep your garage as tidy as your house'

Barrie firefighters are providing tips on how to prevent garage fires after seven incidents – costing over $2 million in damage to the homes and garages – so far in 2023.

Carrie Clark, Barrie Fire and Emergency Service deputy chief, responsible for communications, fire prevention, and public education, told Barrie 360 garages can be susceptible to fires through different avenues like the improper storage of flammable items or if they’re used as smoking areas.

“Our number one cause of fires right now this year has been smokers’ materials, improperly disposing of cigarette butts or other smoking materials,” said Clark. “Put them in metal containers, non-combustible containers that have sand or water.”

Clark says a cigarette butt can smoulder for approximately two to three hours and can be an ignition source in that time frame.

“Four of our fires have been in the evening, like 10, 11 o’clock,” said Clark. “You’ve just had that quick drag after suppertime … before you go to bed – butt it out – and then two hours later, your garage is on fire.”

Another tip, according to Clark, is to assess items stored in the garage and identify what’s important, then donate or dispose of unwanted items. She says they also see those items stored in mezzanine-style storage units, which can impact the fire separations when a garage is attached to the house.

“The fire separations are very critical in between the two,” said Clark. “But when people construct things to store more stuff, they damage the fire separation, which causes an opportunity for smoke and heat to more easily penetrate into the living space.”

“And if there is a door that connects the garage to the house, make sure that that door latches properly, maybe even install a self-closer on it so that it will close behind you every time.”

For those that use their garage as part of their living space, Clark says to keep it as clean and tidy as the inside of the house.

Clark says if you think there is a fire in your garage, do not open the connecting door because it could provide oxygen to the fire and make it burn faster and hotter.

She added that installing a heat detector in the garage and wiring it into the home or installing a sprinkler system can be proactive initiatives, but they are not always foolproof.

“Because the fire can grow in the garage a lot faster undetected, your home escape plan is very critical,” said Clark. “Making sure that everyone gets out immediately upon detection of the fire is critical. Don’t stop and get your stuff. Don’t stop for anything. Get out of the house.”

Check out the full list of tips below and for more information, visit the Barrie Fire website.

Via Barrie Fire and Emergency Service

Banner image file photo – Barrie 360