September 9, 2011
People Protecting Our Parks
New Fire Safety Campaign for City of Houston Parks
People Protecting Our Parks calls on all Houstonians to proactively protect the City's parklands during the ongoing drought. The campaign has two main goals: fire prevention education and the protection of public parklands. The first step in this campaign is the issuance of a temporary ban on all barbeque pits in City of Houston Parks.
The temporary ban on barbeque pits will remain in effect until further notice. Signage notifying the public about the ban will be placed in the parks. To allow for a period of public education, warnings will be issued to violators until City Council adopts a permanent enforcement mechanism next week.
Houston Fire Department recommends the following safety tips during this drought:
- Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.
- When igniting the barbecue charcoal, use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to ensure that it is okay.
- Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed.
- The City of Houston Fire Code prohibits all open-burning within the Houston city limits at all times. The burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County also prohibits any outdoor open-burning, including the burning of: a bonfire, rubbish fire, campfire, trench fire, or other fire in an outdoor location when not contained.
Vehicles, Trailers and Tools
- Park vehicles so that the exhaust system does not come in contact with dry grass, leaves, or weeds.
- Adjust the safety chains on trailers to ensure they don't drag and create sparks that can cause roadside starts.
- Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.
- Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.
- Notify the electric power company when dead trees or overhanging limbs endanger the electric wires. The wires may touch each other or the ground, causing sparks that start fires.
Cigarettes or Other Smoking Materials
For more safety tips see www.houstontx.gov/fire.
- Another cause of accidental fires is carelessly discarded cigarettes or other smoking materials. They can smolder for hours and should be completely doused with water before being discarded in a safe manner, rather than tossed out a window or on the ground.
- Texas' arson law includes felony punishment for anyone whose cigarette recklessly sets fire to a building or injures anyone. Arson is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but if a person is hurt or killed or if the fire involves a church, arson is a first-degree felony, carrying possible punishment of up to life in prison.