Space Heater Fires between 2006 and 2015
One hundred and thirty-three (133) space heater fires were reported to the Office of the State Fire Marshal between 2006 and 2015. While these fires are not frequent, they are deadly. One of every 15 space heater fires causes a fatality. These fires caused 9 civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries, 31 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $10.6 million. The average dollar loss for a space heater fire is $79,851. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of these fires were caused when combustible materials such as bedding, magazines, newspapers, clothing or furniture were too close to the heater, and another 8% were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.

If you must use a space heater, use it as safely as possible!
On the evening of December 23, 2015, the Westfield Fire Department was called to a fatal heating fire at a single-family home. The fire was started by a portable space heater in a bedroom too close to combustibles. The victim, a 48-year old physically disabled man, was overcome by the heat and smoke of the fire. The home did not have any smoke alarms, and the building did not have any sprinklers. The total estimated dollar loss from this fire was $125,000.

Safety Tips

  • When buying a heater, look for one that has been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc. (UL).
  • Keep the heater 3 feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable materials.
  • Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where someone might bump into it and knock it over.
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord marked with a power rating at least as high as that on the label of the heater itself.
  • Space heaters are for temporary use only. Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets when a space heater is in use.
  • Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
  • The sale and use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts.