05/24/2024
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A staff report
The National Association of State Fire Marshals reported garage fires are a significant hazard in homes nationwide, leading to an alarming average of 30 deaths, 400 injuries, and $457 million in property loss annually. Out of the 6,600 garage fires reported each year, many spread further and cause more injuries and financial loss than fires originating in other parts of the home. Fire safety experts and officials advocate for increased awareness and prevention measures to combat this.
The U.S. Fire Administration highlights several steps homeowners can take to safeguard their homes from garage fires:1. Storing Hazardous Materials Safely: To minimize fire risks, keep flammable substances such as oil, gasoline, paints, propane, and varnishes in a dedicated shed away from the home.

2. Organizing Storage Wisely: To prevent accidental ignition, store items that can easily catch fire on shelves away from appliances.

3. Managing Electrical Safety: When using appliances in the garage, plug only one charging appliance into an outlet at a time, and avoid using extension cords for charging, as they can overheat and cause fires.

Construction features can also play a critical role in preventing the spread of fires:

1. Fire-Rated Doors: Installing a 20-minute fire-rated door that is self-closing and self-latching between the garage and the house can act as a barrier to slow the spread of fire.

2. Proper Wall and Ceiling Materials: Using a 5/8-inch Type X gypsum board for ceilings, especially if there’s living space above the garage and a 1/2-inch gypsum board for walls attached to the home can provide additional fire resistance.

3. Attic Hatch Covers: If attic access from the garage, an attic hatch cover is recommended to impede the fire’s progression.

Furthermore, a heat alarm—not to be mistaken with a smoke alarm—is essential in a garage setting. Heat alarms detect rapidly rising temperatures and can alert before a fire spreads.

For more detailed information on fire safety and to obtain free resources, homeowners are encouraged to visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website at www.usfa.fema.gov. Individuals must take proactive steps to ensure their homes are equipped to prevent fires, particularly in areas as vulnerable as garages.

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