SFMO urges Tennesseans to ‘Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen’

New Tracy Lawrence video, outreach events with Tennessee Fire Departments highlight weeklong fire safety awareness campaign 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) and country music artist Tracy Lawrence are teaming up to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4 through Oct. 10) campaign, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”

Fire Prevention Week is an annual, national fire prevention education campaign sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week of Oct. 9 in commemoration of the Great Chicago fire. 

Each year’s theme focuses on educating consumers on the simple but important actions they can take today to keep themselves and those around them safe from the risk of home fires in the future.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States and has taken a deadly toll on Tennesseans. According to the NFPA, almost half of reported U.S. home fires (44%) started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. 

In Tennessee, 24.9% of reported structure fires in 2019 involved cooking equipment. Those 1,541 fires that involved cooking equipment resulted in eight civilian fatalities, 41 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries and nearly $4.3 million in direct property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.

To help raise awareness of the importance of cooking safety this year, country music artist Tracy Lawrence is helping promote Fire Prevention Week with the latest in a series of life-saving fire safety videos. The latest focuses on fire safety in the kitchen

“Fire safety is the most important ingredient in every meal,” Lawrence said. “Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.”

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Hodgen Mainda urged Tennesseans to always use caution and be mindful of fire safety whenever preparing food.

“In order to help reduce the risk to our families and first responders during these unprecedented times, it is crucial that Tennesseans take steps to help prevent home fires before they happen,” said Mainda. “A cooking fire can grow quickly. Remember to always stay in the kitchen when cooking, use a timer and avoid distractions such as electronics or TV.”

The SFMO wants to share safety tips to prevent cooking fire.

  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food — check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.

“I have seen firsthand how one careless moment in a kitchen can result in a devastating financial or personal loss for a family because of a kitchen fire,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley, who is a lifelong firefighter. “I want all Tennesseans to focus on fire safety while cooking at home and always use working smoke alarms. If a consumer needs working smoke alarms, I remind them to contact their local fire department today and ask if they participate in our ‘Get Alarmed, Tennessee!’ program.”

During Fire Prevention Week, Mainda will participate in outreach events across Tennessee on Wednesday, Oct. 7 to honor Tennessee firefighters and first responders as part of outreach work begun earlier this summer with Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee. During the Oct. 7 outreach events, Mainda and the SFMO team will present food, cleaning supplies and Fire Prevention Week materials to honor the Cumberland County Fire Department, the Pikeville Volunteer Fire Department and the Rhea County Fire Department.

“During Fire Prevention Week, our team wants to call special attention to the work of Tennessee firefighters,” Mainda said. “These brave men and women risk their own lives every day to help save others’ lives and reduce property damage. I encourage all Tennesseans to find ways to support and encourage first responders and essential workers in their communities today.”

Additionally, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is supporting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign with the launch of the annual State Fire Marshal’s Office poster contest which highlights the “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” message. More details about the contest can be found here.

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