Fires more common in heating — not holiday — season, NH fire officials say
Allstate Insurance Company issued a report last week stating that new insurance claims data shows fire is a major threat to home security and safety for New Hampshire residents during the holiday season. According to the report, Granite State homeowners are most likely to experience a fire claim over the holiday season than any other time of year, claiming they increase 65.2 percent. Compared to the national average, fire claims are 58.5 percent more likely to occur in New Hampshire than any other state, according to the report.
"While we do not disagree with some of the fire prevention messages that Allstate has identified in their press release, we do question their statistical methodology," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Robert Farley, Commander of the Bureau of Special Operations with the State Fire Marshal's Office. "The increases that we see in the winter are not related specifically to the holiday season but rather a broader issue related to the heating season. The threat of fire here doesn't go away after the holidays."
"Not everyone files insurance claims, but 200 in a state of around 1.3 million residents — that's a small sample size," said Farley. "For the 24 years I have been involved in running the New Hampshire Fire Incident Reporting System, the leading cause of fires in New Hampshire has always been attributed to heating appliances. The main causal factors have been related to either lack of maintenance or improper installation."
New Hampshire Association of Fire Chief's President and New London Fire Chief Jason Lyon last week said, "Now is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are in working order and to review your home escape plan so that if in the event of a fire, everyone in your household knows how to get out quickly and safely."
• Pay particular attention while cooking, especially when using oils and grease. Cooking appliances should be kept clean of grease build-up, which can easily ignite, and always have a lid handy to cover and extinguish small pan grease fires.
Holiday lights and Christmas trees
• Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets.
• Don't leave your lights burning overnight or while you are away from home.
• If you choose to light candles, place them in stable holders and display them where they won't be easily knocked down.
• Never leave lit candles unattended.
• Lit candles should not be placed on or near a Christmas tree or anything that can burn.