SFMO: Make Fire Safety First on Spring ‘To Do’ List

NASHVILLE – With the arrival of the first day of spring (March 20, 2019), the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is reminding Tennesseans to keep fire safety at the top of their ‘to do’ lists as they start spring house cleaning or hit the road for a quick getaway.

“Spring provides the perfect opportunity to get outside and get some work done around your home and yard,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “As the weather turns warmer, we’re encouraging Tennesseans to always keep fire safety in mind at home or traveling to ensure that their spring remains fire-safe.”

To help consumers practice focused fire prevention this spring, the SFMO has created a checklist to add to consumers’ spring ‘to-do’ lists:


  • Test alarms to ensure they are working. Replace batteries, if necessary.
  • Place working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of a home, including the basement.
  • Check the age of the smoke alarm on the back of the unit. If the unit is 10 years old or older, it no longer provides reliable fire protection.
  • If you need a free working smoke alarm, contact your local fire department today.


  • Create or update a home fire escape plan for your family. The SFMO has a free escape plan grid with instructions that you can download online.
  • Ensure everyone in the home knows two ways out of each room.
  • Check that all windows are easily opened. If security bars are present, ensure they have a quick-release device that is accessible from inside your home.
  • Practice home fire drills with the entire family.
  • Remove any items that may block your way out of the room or your home. Remember, your exit routes may change as new items are brought into the home.


  • When going to bed at night, close the door. A closed door can hinder the spread of deadly smoke and flames, potentially adding invaluable seconds to your escape.
  • In the event of a house fire, close the door behind you as you exit when possible. This can drastically reduce property damage and fire spread.


  • Reduce your chances of an accidental home fire that starts outdoors by removing leaves, pine needles, and other flammable materials from your roof and gutter. Remove dead vegetation and other flammable materials from around your home’s exterior. Also, keep construction materials, trash, and woodpiles at least 30 feet away from the home to prevent an accidental fire from spreading to your home.
  • Before firing up a grill, check the gas tank hose for leaks and clean any grease or fat buildup that may be left over from previous barbecues.
  • If you’re planning to conduct an outdoor burn, remember that burn permits are required in Tennessee from October 15 – May 15. Always check with local authorities to make sure there are no additional local restrictions in place.
  • Do not throw out cigarettes into vegetation, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, or other similar items—they can easily catch fire.


  • Choose a hotel or vacation rental that is equipped with both hard-wired smoke alarms and fire sprinklers.*
  • During check in, ask the front desk attendant what the fire alarm sounds like.
  • When you enter your room, review the posted escape plan. This is often found on the back of the door.
  • If the fire alarm is sounding, use the stairs. Never use an elevator in the event of a fire.
  • If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.
  • If the fire is in your room, get out quickly, sound the fire alarm, and notify the front desk.

*The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 was enacted by Congress to save lives and protect property by promoting fire and life safety in hotels, motels, and other places of public accommodation. Fire safety in places of public accommodation is encouraged through creation of a National Master List (NML) of hotel and motel properties that voluntarily comply with the provisions of the Act. The U.S. Fire Administration encourages the traveling public to use the list when making reservations for lodging accommodations, be they for business or pleasure. To search the list, go to

For more tips on keeping your family fire safe year-round, visit

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