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Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day doubles more than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. Property loss during a holiday season from fire is 34% greater than in an average, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. Christmas tree fires make the property damage even higher

Here are some holiday fire safety tips:


Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.


The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during the Winter months. According to NFPA, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve.

To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out.

https://youtu.be/xr6b9b8FYKk (CLICK THIS LINK FOR VIDEO)

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames,

To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources. No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.


Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip.

When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.


The number of blazes, and, tragically, the number of deaths caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. The United State Fire Administration reports January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, in December, that percentage doubles. So keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach. “


Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.

When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.

Following these fire safety tips will help ensure your family and loved ones have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

Snow Hill Out-buildings Fire

The Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office has investigated a fire which cause heavy damage to two out-buildings (Sheds) at 4828 Paw Paw Creek Road in Snow Hill.  Arriving firefighters found heavy fire extending from the two sheds.  The fires were quickly extinguished.  No injuries were reported with the fire.  Fire Companines from Snow Hill, Girdletree, Newark and Stockton responded to the 5:55PM fire.  The cause of the fire is listed as accidental and blamed an electrical cords used between the two sheds.  Contact Deputy Rob Korb at 410.632.5666 or rkorb@co.worcester.md.us with questions.

Chimney Fire Causes Structural Damage In Berlin Fire

The Berlin Volunteer Fire Company was alerted for a chimney fire at 6:46PM on November 20, 2016 at 11505 Quillin Way. Prior to arrival the alarm was upgrade to smoke in the building which activated the County's Box Alarm system with a response from Ocean City and Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Companies. Fire damage was minimal and contained to the "Chimney Chase". There was smoke damage inside the residence. No injuries were reported in the fire and cause of the fire is listed as accidental. Contact Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Matthew Owens for further information.

Delmarva Power Donates Smoke Alarms

County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon was among other Fire Officials from the upper and lower Eastern Shore of Maryland who attended a meeting where Delmarva Power donated smoke alarms to the local Fire Service. DPL donated 1,500 smoke alarms to the area, in which Worcester County received 120 and Ocean City received 50. The smoke alarm donation program is an annual event where DPL donates the smoke alarms and the local fire authorities along with the State Fire Marshal's Office coordinate the program.

Ocean Pines House Fire Leave Five Homeless

The Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating an early morning house fire at 173 Sandyhook in Ocean Pines, Maryland. Upon arrival firefighters found heavy fire showing from the two story residence. The fire was a two alarm fire with fire companies from Showell, Bishopville, Ocean City, Newark and Willards in Maryland and several Sussex County, Delaware volunteer fire companies assisting the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Company with the 12:28AM fire. The house was occupied by four people people at the time of the fire, all who were able to escape uninjuried. The fifth tenant was not at home at the time of the fire. The occupants were alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm. The house was not equipped with a residential fire sprinkler system. The house is owned by Joan Trice who leased the residence to several tenants. The cause of the fire is listed as undetermined at this time and the investigation continues. Anyone with information about the fire may contact Senior Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Korb, Jr. at 410.632.5666, extension 4 or rkorb@co.worcester.md.us

New Deputy Fire Marshal Takes The Oath Of Office

Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon would like to announce Richard "Hunter" Mauk as a new Deputy Fire Marshal for Worcester County. The County Commissioners choose DFM Mauk to fill a vacancy opened by a retirement within the County's Fire Marshal's Office. Deputy Mauk was sworn into office on Monday, October 24, 2016 by Worcester County Clerk of Court, Susan Braniecki. Deputy Mauk resides in Ocean City and is a member of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company. He is originally from Annapolis, Maryland with family in Vienna, Maryland. Fire Marshal McMahon stated, "I think the Commissioners made a great choice. DFM Mauk has great ambition and his very enthusisactic about his new career".