- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for Haverhill Fires Spur Smoking Safety Reminder
HAVERHILL — In the span of just one week, five significant fires in Haverhill have been attributed to the unsafe disposal of smoking materials, and fire officials want to prevent more of them as people step outside to smoke in warmer weather, said Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
“Any fire is dangerous, but smoking fires pose a special hazard because they can smolder undetected and grow to dangerous size on a porch or next to a home before anyone inside is aware of them,” said Chief O’Brien. “In a densely built community, these fires can easily spread to nearby homes. If you must smoke, or if you have guests who do, always use a sturdy ashtray or heavy can with water. Never crush out cigarettes on a porch railing or stairway, or toss them into mulch, grass, trash, or planters. Even a small ember can start a big fire.”
Chief O’Brien said the Haverhill Fire Department responded to a series of smoking-related fires in a seven-day period:
- An April 12 brush fire in the area of Plug Pond;
- An April 13 outdoor fire that damaged a home on Glen Meadow Road,
- An April 14 vehicle fire on Sunrise Street;
- An April 14 structure fire on Bellevue Avenue that went to four alarms and displaced all residents from the three-story home; and
- An April 19 working fire on White Street that badly damaged another three-story home.
“I want to recognize the firefighters who worked so hard to contain these fires and prevent any serious injuries,” he said.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said smoking fires are a dangerous problem all year round, but that fires on porches, decks, and balconies tend to increase in the springtime as the weather warms up.
“The unsafe disposal of smoking materials causes about 400 residential fires each year in Massachusetts,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “In an average year, these fires cause dozens of injuries to firefighters and civilians, and upwards of $15 million in damages. Sadly, the greatest toll is in human life. In the past three years, 30 Massachusetts residents have died in smoking-related fires. For your safety and the safety of people you care for, please don’t smoke. If you absolutely must smoke, please do it responsibly and put it out, all the way, every time.”