Mulch close to your home creates fire risk

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Mulch may help your garden grow, but it could be too close to your home increasing the fire risk.

Foxborough fire department’s deputy fire chief blames a cigarette butt and mulch as the likely cause for a wedding venue fire in Foxborough over the weekend.

Mulch can be highly flammable under the right circumstances, and there are rules in place to help prevent mulch fires.

A new regulation developed in 2012 bans certain buildings from having mulch within 18 inches from the base of the building with fines starting at 100 dollars. This rule doesn’t apply to everyone, just commercial buildings or residential buildings that have 7 or more units in them.

Brick or concrete buildings are exempt from the restriction, but buildings with wood or vinyl siding on the outside are at high risk, especially during the spring and summer.

“During the dry months obviously there’s a higher risk. Specifically if there’s low rainfall or dry conditions, the mulch tends to dry out and can become quite flammable,” said Agawam Fire Chief Alan Sirois.

So what should you replace mulch with in order to keep the weeds at bay.

“Replace the mulch with a stone which is a non combustible product. It will act as a mulch. The advantages of stone is that it is more permanent. The disadvantages of stone is that it’s not easy to dig in if you want to plant annuals or perennials,” said Gary Courchesne, the owner of G and H Landscaping in Holyoke.

Stone is more expensive at first, but ends up cheaper than mulch over time because you don’t need to keep adding it.

Chief Sirois recommends mulch be kept 18 inches away from ALL buildings, regardless of building type or make.

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