Fire Safety and Prevention
The Boerne Fire Department is committed to fire safety and prevention in the community. Read through the life-saving information on this page to learn the importance of installing smoke detectors and establishing a home escape plan. You will also learn tips to prevent fires while cooking, using heaters, using fireplaces and maintaining your property for grass fires. For more information about fire safety and prevention, contact the Fire Department at 830-249-3644.
Install a Smoke Detector
The first step in fire safety is installing a smoke detector in your home. The early warning of a working smoke detector provides crucial seconds that can save lives. Remember to change batteries in the spring and in the fall when you change your clock for daylight savings time. Contact the Fire Department to assist you with properly installing a smoke detector in your home.
Establish a Home Escape Plan
Family members should discuss what to do in case of a fire. An organized step-by-step plan is essential to ensure a safe escape. Use the steps below to develop a fire safety and escape plan for your home.
Know two ways out
Discuss and diagram two ways out of every room, especially bedrooms. Doors are the primary and windows are the secondary ways of exit. Make sure everyone knows how to unlock all locks and quickly open all windows and doors.
Choose a meeting place
Have a place outdoors for everyone to meet for roll call. Make sure someone is assigned to call 911 from a neighbor's house, pay phone or cellphone.
Get out fast
Exit as quickly as possible. If it is smoky, get down low and stay low. Crawl as quickly as possible. Once outside, go to the family meeting place.
If you are trapped
Put closed doors between people and smoke. Stuff cracks and cover vents to keep smoke out. Wait at the window and signal with a flashlight or sheet.
If a dwelling has more than one level above ground, we recommend the use of a portable escape ladder in an emergency evacuation. If you do not have a portable ladder, hang a sheet, shirt, or some type of flag out the window for the rescuers to see. Do not jump unless there is immediate danger of being burned or overcome by smoke.
Do not go back inside
Make sure everyone in the family understands the importance of not going back inside a burning building for any reason. Someone who goes back in may not come back out.
Practice exit drills
Practice in the home or apartment. Appoint someone to sound the alarm and time the drill, making sure everyone uses the second escape route, gets low and goes. Most fatal fires occur at night when everyone is asleep, so everyone should start the drill in his or her bedroom.
- Close the door and wait for the monitor to sound the alarm.
- Get out fast and go to the meeting place, where the monitor will then take a head count and review the drill, and discuss any problems with escape routes.
- Practice crawling fast and staying low to escape smoke. Smoke rises while clean air stays low near the floor, so get down and crawl, maintaining contact with the walls while heading to the nearest exit.
- Test the door using the back of your hands. In a real fire, if it is hot, take your second way out. If the second exit is not an option, brace a shoulder against the door and open it carefully, being ready to close it quickly if heat or smoke rush in.
Learn Fire Prevention
The best way to stay safe from fire danger is to prevent them altogether. Click on the different tabs below to learn how to prevent and respond to specific fire incidents in your home.
Careless cooking is one of the leading causes of residential fires in Texas and the nation. This results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in property loss and numerous injuries each year and sometimes deaths.
- Should a pan fire occur, use a fire extinguisher, baking soda, or a tight fitting lid to extinguish the fire. If the fire has spread beyond the pan, get out immediately and call 911.
- Never use flour or water to extinguish a cooking fire. Flour is combustible and water can spread the fire.
- Keep pan handles turned inwards so they aren't accidentally bumped or grabbed by children.
- Do not wear clothing with loose sleeves while cooking. Make sure there aren't any combustible objects on or near the stove.
- Be sure to remove any food or grease that spills inside the oven.
- If there is a fire in the oven, turn off the oven and allow the fire to die down before opening the oven door.
- After extinguishing the fire, be sure to relight the pilot flame or shut off the gas to the appliance.
- If a fire breaks out in a microwave oven, keep the door closed and unplug the unit. Don't try to remove burning containers from a microwave.
A well-maintained fireplace is essential to fire safety in the home. Read through the smart fireplace habits below to prepare your home ahead of using your fireplace.
- Make certain that you open the flue in your fireplace before lighting a fire.
- Fires should not be started on the floor of the fireplace. Use a basket type grate to actually hold the logs.
- Only burn hardwoods. Soft woods generate too much heat for most residential fireplaces. Use only dry wood; wet wood causes excess smoke and leaves creosote deposits. If you use synthetic logs, only burn one log at a time.
- Do not burn Christmas trees and holiday greenery in the fireplace.
- Do not burn papers in the fireplace; they burn too quickly and can overheat the fireplace. Burning paper can be carried up the chimney, possibly igniting any creosote deposits that are in the chimney.
- You should never use lighter fluid, gasoline, charcoal, or any flammable liquids to start or enhance a fire.
- Chimneys should be professionally inspected each year and cleaned after burning approximately one cord of wood or at least once a year. Fires generate creosote, which can lead to a chimney fire if allowed to build up.
- Outside sparks flying up the chimney can cause fires. A spark arrestor is simply a metal screen that covers the top of the chimney and prevents sparks from escaping. It also prevents birds from building nests and other varmints from getting in the chimney.
- Use a metal fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying out the front of the fireplace.
- Make sure fires are out before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Avoid wearing loose, flowing clothing near the fire.
- Keep children away from the fireplace at all times.
- Never close the damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force carbon monoxide into the house.
Read through the information below to learn how to prevent heater fires in your home.
- Space heaters need space. Heaters should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including the walls, curtains, and bedding.
- Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.
- Electrical and kerosene heaters should be equipped with a cutoff device that will automatically shut off if the unit is tipped over or overheats.
- Kerosene and natural gas heaters should not be used in an enclosed area unless they are vented or a window is partially opened to let fresh air in. This prevents the possible buildup of carbon monoxide. If you choose to install carbon monoxide detectors, choose models with a digital readout that are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Have a professional inspect and service your central heating unit each year.
- Keep the area around the unit clear and clean. Clean and replace filters regularly. Never use heater, air conditioner, or water heater closets for storage.
Read through the information below to learn how to prevent and respond to grass fires.
- Don't throw cigarette or cigar butts on the ground or out of a vehicle. Dispose of them properly and make sure they are completely extinguished.
- Do not burn trash, leaves, or brush outdoors any time in the city; it is against city ordinances. During certain times of the year burn bans are implemented in the county.
- Keep a 30-foot safety zone surrounding the home clear of brush, especially for those living in a woodland area. Grass should be cut short in this area as well. For homes that sit on a steep slope, the safety zone should be increased accordingly.
- Stack firewood at least 15 feet from the home and uphill if possible.
- If conducting a controlled burn, have a water hose close by.
- Rake leaves, cut off dead tree limbs and twigs, and mow grass regularly. Cut tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground and remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
- Do not park cars, trucks, or recreational vehicles on dry grass or shrubs. Exhaust systems on vehicles can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees; it only takes about 500 degrees to start a grass fire in the summer.
- Maintain equipment in good working order. Any equipment that will be near grass, such as mowers or tractors, and is not in good working order can overheat or spark. Overheating or sparking can cause a grass fire.
- Use an approved spark arrester on all internal combustion engine power equipment. This special muffler helps ensure that sparks generated by off-road vehicles, chainsaws, and other equipment don't start wildfires.
- Parents should emphasize to their children the dangers of playing with fire. Children who have no idea how quickly flames can grow and spread often start many grass fires.
- Homeowners who barbecue should maintain a 10-foot area free of brush and shrubbery around grills and propane tanks. Non-flammable screens should be placed over the grill, with mesh no larger than three fourths of an inch thick. Never leave a grill unattended.
- Keep a shovel, bucket of water, fire extinguisher, or other fire suppression tools on hand any time while burning outside.