January 10, 2014 - Smoking on Home Oxygen Caused 2 Fires Last Sunday
Statewide Campaign on Home Oxygen Safety
Two fires last Sunday were caused by smoking on home oxygen. The first fire was in Hinsdale at 15 Main Street in Hinsdale. Three people were injured in the fire, one seriously, and six people were displaced. The second fire occurred later that day at 200 East River Street in Orange, injured one person and displaced eleven people. State Fire Marshal Coan said, “Massachusetts has on average 5-6 fires each year with 1-2 deaths and 4 injuries from fires involving medical oxygen. It was unusual to have two such fires on the same day.”
The Department of Fire Services has a public awareness/public education campaign Breathe Easy: Home Oxygen Fire Safety (http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dfs/dfs2/osfm/pubed/fs-topics/fs-topics-a/breathe-easy-using-home-oxygen-safely.html) that tries to educate physicians and patients, and families and firefighters about the fire dangers of bringing medical oxygen into the home. Materials are available in English and Spanish.
Coan said, “Oxygen soaks into bedding, clothes, hair, furniture and the air, creating an oxygen-enriched environment. This makes things catch fire more easily, fire spread faster and burn hotter. As more and more people are bringing medical oxygen into the home, they need to understand the new fire risks they also bring into the home.”
He added “There is no safe way to smoke inside a house where medical oxygen is in use but there are other fire risks as well. People should not use electric razors, hair dryers, or curling irons while using oxygen or get within ten feet of an open flame such as a candle, a gas stove, or woodstove.”
Coan said, “Since we’ve been tracking these fires in 1997, there have been 98 serious fire incidents involving home oxygen, 34 deaths, 74 civilian and 7 firefighter injuries.