For Immediate Release - August 06, 2014

Smoking on Home Oxygen Causes Ayer Fire

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Ayer Fire Chief Robert J. Pedrazzi announced that the cause of the August 5t, 2014, 6:45 a.m. fire at 41 Shirley Street is improper disposal of smoking materials while on home oxygen.

The fire started in a second floor family room. Investigators believe the fire began on a blanket and was the result of a lit cigarette in an oxygen rich environment. State Fire Marshal Coan warns that “bringing medical oxygen in into the home means learning about new fire risks. Home oxygen increases the amount of oxygen in the air, soaks into furniture, clothing and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread. When more oxygen is in the area, fires burn hotter and faster.” Smoking on oxygen increases the risk of fires and burns. In 2013, the use of oxygen while smoking contributed to one of the five smoking related fire deaths.

Chief Pedrazzi said, “Smoking in homes where people use oxygen is the cause of many fires that result in deaths and injuries to patients, family members, neighbors and pets. These fires force whole families and other building tenants out of their homes, destroy a lifetime’s possessions and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage.”

Fire officials offered these safety tips for using home oxygen.

  • Shutting off the oxygen to smoke is not enough. There cannot be any smoking where oxygen is used.
  • Keep oxygen away from common heat sources like matches, lighters, stoves, candles, heaters, electric razors and hair dryers
  • Don’t use flammable products such as oils, grease, petroleum products and oil based lip balms or lotions.
  • Occupants should never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is in use.

Coan added, “For everyone, but crucial for those on home oxygen, have working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside bedrooms. Consider extra smoke alarms inside every bedroom. In addition, a home escape plan with two ways out and a meeting place is vital to a quick response in the event of a fire. No one expects a fire to happen in their home, so take a moment to make sure you have a working plan.”