Spring is the traditional time for sprucing up landscaping around our buildings and this spring will be the first one with a new mulch fire safety regulation in effect. The regulation was developed in response to several significant fires in the Commonwealth involving mulch-wood products. State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and fire chiefs across the state want to alert landscaping companies, nurseries, building owners and managers about the proper placement and storage of mulch in order to prevent fires.
Revised Regulation Has New Mulch Safety Provision
The revised regulation, 527 CMR 17 , took effect last September and prohibits the new application of mulch within 18” around combustible exteriors of buildings, such as wood or vinyl but not brick or concrete.
Residential buildings with six units or less are exempted from this regulation, but all homeowners may also wish to adopt these safety practices. The regulation applies to all other buildings including commercial properties.
Storage and Manufacturing of Mulch
The revised regulation also has safety requirements for those who store or manufacture mulch. It limits the size of mulch piles and requires a distance of 30-feet between piles and 25-feet from the lot line. Large piles of mulch can easily spontaneously combust with all the heat they generate, so it’s important to be vigilant and employ good housekeeping. The distance between piles prevents a fire in one from easily spreading to another or to a building.
Permits Required to Store 300+ Cubic Yards of Mulch
Permits are required from the fire department wherever more than 300 cubic yards of mulch is produced or stored.
Tips for Landscapers, Property Managers and Building Owners
Here are some tips for property managers and building owners on how to prevent mulch fires:
- Keep wood mulch 18” away from combustible exteriors of buildings such as wood or vinyl siding. Don’t put it right up against the building.
- Use materials such as pea stone or crushed rock for the first 18” as a barrier around the foundation of the building.
- Provide proper receptacles for smoking materials.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, in 2011, there were 10,038 residential fires involving cooking. These incidents resulted in three civilian deaths, 67 civilian injuries, 24 firefighter injuries and an estimated $6.3 million in property damage.
Charcoal and Propane Grille Ordinance for the City of Malden
Any barbecue grilles are to be placed outside buildings in an area clear of heavy grass and brush when in use. They must be atleast 5 feet (5') away from any structure and away from any overhead hazards such as tree branches, awnings, clotheslines, etc.
Charcoal is to be ignited only by charcoal lighter fluid or electricity.. Barbecue grilles are not permitted on porches, rooftops or balconies when in use. Storage or use of liquid propane gas containers above the first floor of a building used for habitation is prohibited.
Any barbecue grille is not to be left unattended at any time while in use.
Upon completion of use of a charcoal grille, charcoal or charcoal briquettes are to be thoroughly extinguished.A permit must be obtained from the Malden Fire Department for the use and storage of propane.The use of a barbecue grille may be prohibited by the Chief of the Malden Fire Department, in his discretion, for failure to comply with any provision of this section, for any conduct which constitutes a violation of the laws of the City of Malden, or in the event the use thereof will cause a dangerous or hazardous condition. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall be punishable by fines and penalties as set forth in Section 1.13.
For more grilling safety tips, click here