State Fire Marshal Offers Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving #1 Day for Home Fires in Massachusetts
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey (Lower Cape TV)

STOW — “Firefighters are busier on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year because this holiday has the most home fires, and the majority are cooking fires,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “As your families gather to celebrate this holiday, keep everyone safe. Start by making sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.”

Cooking Safety Tips

Cooking activities have been the cause of 87% of the 651 Thanksgiving Day fires in Massachusetts over the last five (5) years. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey offered these cooking safety tips that everyone can follow to prevent fires:

  • Check to make sure your oven is empty before turning it on.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Turn pot handles inward over the stove.
  • Remember to “stand by your pan" and stay in the kitchen when boiling, frying or broiling.
  • Use a timer when baking or roasting and never leave the house with the oven running.
  • The best way to respond to a stovetop fire is to “put a lid on it” and turn off the heat.
  • The best way to respond to an oven or broiler fire is to keep the oven doors closed and turn off the heat.
  • If the fire is not quickly snuffed out, leave the house and call 9-1-1 from outside.

Thanksgiving 2018

“Last Thanksgiving, firefighters across the Commonwealth were busy responding to the 145 fires that caused several injuries and over $500,000 of damages,” said Ostroskey. 

  • At about 12:00 p.m. last Thanksgiving, the Gardner Fire Department was called to a cooking fire in a 100-unit apartment building. The fire started on the fifth floor. There were no injuries in large part because working smoke alarms alerted the occupants and a single sprinkler head activated and put out the fire before it could spread. Total damages from this fire were estimated to be $225,000.
  • At around 4:00 p.m. last Thanksgiving, the Woburn Fire Department was called to a cooking fire in a single-family home. The fire was confined to the electric oven and no one was injured. Damages were estimated to be $2,250.

Turkey Fryers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. There are no outdoor turkey fryers that have a listing from an independent testing laboratory such as UL or ETL. The NFPA states that home use of “turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.” This risk of an oil spill or the ignition of spilled oil is quite high. They recommend using new “oil-less” turkey fryers.

  • On November 23, 2017, at 3:09 p.m., the Tewksbury Fire Department was called to a cooking fire in a single-family home. Firefighters found a deep fryer and a 20 lb. propane tank on fire in the driveway about ten feet from the garage. There was heat damage to the paint on the garage.
  • On November 23, 2017, at 4:48 p.m., the Salisbury Fire Department responded to a grease fire in a turkey fryer in the driveway of a single-family home. Before firefighters could arrive, the homeowner had shut the gas off and disconnected the 20 lb. propane tank from the fryer, which extinguished the fire. A car parked nearby was damaged.

Gas Ovens: A Source of CO

Generally, the confined space of a closed gas oven used for cooking does not produce enough carbon monoxide (CO) to present any dangers, unless it is used for several hours consecutively like when roasting a turkey. If you have a kitchen exhaust fan, use it; if not, crack a window for fresh air when using the gas oven for an extended period.

Burn Safety

  • Keep children 3-feet away from the stove for safety to prevent burns.
  • Run cool water on minor burns; call 9-1-1 for more serious burn injuries.
  • Remember to stop, drop, cover and roll if clothing ignites.

Home Heating: #2 Cause of Fires on Thanksgiving
Especially if you do not regularly use your fireplace, be sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before lighting the first fire of the season. Everyone who heats with wood should have the chimney cleaned and flue inspected at the start of the heating season.

  • On November 23, 2017, at 5:46 p.m., the Auburn Fire Department was called to a fire in a single-family home. The homeowner had placed ashes from the woodstove into a plastic bucket and left it on the living room carpet. The ashes melted through the bucket and started the rug and floor on fire. Smoke alarms were present and alerted the occupants and no one was injured. The home had no fire sprinklers and damages were estimated to be $5,000.

For more information, contact your local fire department or the Department of Fire Services’ Thanksgiving web page.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.