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Cooking Fires Are Avoidable

Caring For and Decorating Your Christmas Tree

Firecracker Permits on Sale Until December 21


(Thu., December 8, 2011)The holidays are upon us, and the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) would like to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are important this time of year.  While fires can occur any time of year, it is especially painful to see the suffering caused by fires during the holiday season.  Therefore, the HFD offers the following safety tips to prevent cooking and Christmas tree fires.


In addition, the HFD would like to remind the public that only firecrackers may be used during New Year’s Eve celebrations on Oahu.  Other fireworks are illegal for consumer use.


As in past years, a permit is required to purchase firecrackers on Oahu.  However, the City and County of Honolulu’s (City) new ordinance requires that firecracker permits be obtained no less than ten days before they are used.  As such, firecracker permits for New Year’s Eve celebrations will not be sold after December 21, 2011.  Firecracker permits are available at Satellite City Halls during normal business hours for a $25 fee.  Permits are not available at Oahu fire stations. 


 Holiday Cooking Safety


·       The kitchen is the most likely place for a fire to occur.  

·       Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended.

·       Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking.  If you leave the kitchen, for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

·       If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.

·       Pay attention!  Never cook if you are sleepy, intoxicated, or heavily medicated.

·       Keep the stovetop clean and clear and appliances free of grease buildup.  Wipe up spills and routinely clean the oven.

·       Keep combustibles, such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains, away from your stovetop.

·       Prevent accidents by creating a kid- and pet-free zone of at least three feet around the stove/oven and countertops.

·       Do not wear loose, long-sleeved clothing while cooking. 


How and When to Fight Cooking Fires


·       When in doubt, get out.  When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.  Call 9-1-1 after you leave.

·       If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear exit path.

·       Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking.  If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing an oven mitt).  Turn off the burner, and do not move the pan.  To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan has completely cooled.

·       Never use water to fight a grease fire.  Water will cause a grease fire to splatter and spread.

·       In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.

·       If case of a microwave oven fire, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed.  Do not open the door until the fire is completely out.  Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.

·       After an oven or microwave oven fire, the appliance should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.


 Christmas Tree and Holiday Decorations Safety


·       Consider purchasing a fire-resistant/fire-retardant artificial tree, as they are safer and cleaner.

·       A fresh Christmas tree should not lose green needles when tapped on the ground.

·       Needles on fresh Christmas trees should be green and hard to pull from the branches.  Needles should not break if the tree as been freshly cut, and the trunk should be sticky to the touch.

·       Leave the tree outside until you are ready to decorate.

·       Cut one inch off the bottom of the truck to allow the tree to absorb water.

·       Clean the tree stand to improve the tree's water intake.

·       The tree stand should hold at least one gallon of water and be the proper size for the tree base to prevent tipping.

·       Check the water level every day.  A six-foot tree can consume a half-gallon of water every day.

·       Mix a commercial preservative into the water.

·       Keep the tree away from flames and heat sources.

·       Do not block exit doors with your Christmas tree or decorations.  Ensure you are able to escape in the event of a fire.

·       Before decorating the tree, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions concerning the installation and maintenance of electrical decorations.  Use only lights that are listed by an approved testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual.  Use the correct lights for indoor and outdoor use.  Most light sets are designated for one or the other, but not both.

·       Never use electric lights on a metal tree.  Faulty wiring could energize the tree and create a deadly shock hazard.

·       Check the manufacturer's instructions on electrical decorations to determine the maximum number of decorative lights (light strings) and decorations that may be connected.  If the product packaging does not indicate the number of light strings that may be connected, do not connect more than three light strings together.

·       Before plugging in electrical decorations, carefully inspect them for cracked sockets; frayed, loose, or bare wires; and loose connections, which may cause a serious electrical shock or start a fire.

·       Do not allow children or pets to play with light strings or other electrical decorations, as they could produce a deadly electrical shock if they are misused.

·       Do not overload extension cords, as this could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.

·       Consider using miniature lights, which have cool-burning bulbs.

·       Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing light bulbs or fuses.

·       Do not mount or support light strings in any way that may damage a cord's wire insulation.

·       Always unplug electrical lights and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.



New Year’s Eve Sale and Use of Firecrackers on Oahu


On Oahu, consumers may only purchase firecrackers.  Firecrackers can be sold from

December 26, 2011, at 12:01 a.m. to 12 midnight on December 31, 2011.  Firecrackers may be set off, ignited, or discharged from 9 p.m. on December 31, 2011, until 1 a.m. on January 1, 2012.


A permit is required for the purchase of firecrackers on Oahu.  Multiple permits may be purchased.  Firecracker permits are available at Satellite City Halls during normal business hours for a $25 fee.  Permits are not available at Oahu fire stations.  The fee is nonrefundable, and the permit must be used in the year issued and only for the designated holiday.


Firecrackers must be purchased from licensed retailers no more than five days prior to its use.  Retail licenses shall be prominently displayed in public view and secured at the location for which the license has been issued.  Licensed retailers shall not sell more than 5,000 individual firecrackers per permit. 


The City’s ordinance requires that firecracker permits be obtained no less than ten days before they are used.  Therefore, firecracker permits for New Year’s Eve celebrations will not be sold after December 21, 2011.


According to Chapter 132D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the use of aerial fireworks is prohibited unless the HFD's Fire Chief issues a display permit.  A schedule of New Year’s Eve professional fireworks displays on Oahu, firecracker safety tips, and general prohibitions will be distributed later this month.


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CONTACT:  Fire Captain Terry Seelig, Public Information Officer, 723-7117