For Immediate Release - May 09, 2014

Braintree Fire Electrical

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Braintree Fire Chief James F. O’Brien announced the cause of yesterday’s fire at 287 Commercial Street was overloaded extension cords. The fire occurred in a first floor hallway where a motorized wheelchair was plugged into an extension cord that was plugged into second lightweight extension cord, which was plugged into an ungrounded outlet.

Six people were transported to hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation.

The fire was jointly investigated by the Braintree Fire Department, Braintree Police Department, and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

May is Electrical Safety Month and fire officials across the state are working to educate the public on how to prevent electrical fires. Electrical fires continue to be one of the leading causes of residential structural fire deaths in Massachusetts. In 2013, five people died in electrical home fires in Massachusetts; it was the number two cause of fire deaths behind smoking.

Some steps that people can take to prevent electrical fires are:

  • Avoid overloading circuits and be especially careful with heat generating appliances like space heaters, irons, and toasters. The need to plug many things into a single outlet is a sign to have an electrician review your system.
  • Have a licensed electrician look at your electrical system every ten years. Making sure outdoor grounds and connections are secure can prevent problems.
  • Smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years, including hard-wired alarms.
  • All electrical work should be done by a licensed electrician who has first obtained a permit when required (minor work does not require a permit). The permit process helps protect homeowners by verifying that the work is done correctly and meets the code.
  • Inspect all extension cords. Discard any that are cracked or frayed and replace with new ones having a certification label from an independent testing laboratory. Never nail a cord or wire to the wall.
  • Cords should be used according to their ratings (indoor or outdoor use) and according to the power needs of the appliance that is being plugged in.

For more information on electrical fire safety go to www.mass.gov/dfs.