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Fire Officials Urge Clean Up
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It's "Spring Cleanup" time again and with the weather warming and some strong breezes as well, the San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs would like to share some pointers on how you can make your home and property safer.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, roughly 84 percent of all fire deaths occur in residential structure fires. The need for public attention to be directed to underlying causes of preventable loss of life and property is critically evident.

"By detecting and correcting unseen existing fire hazards, in your home and on your property during Spring Cleanup, you can help reduce your chances of having a fire," said Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello, also president of the county fire chiefs association.

Weed abatement and landscaping can also reduce your chances of a fire reaching your residence and spreading to or from your neighbor's property. Pruning and weeding of shrubbery and vegetation near and around all buildings, especially in rural areas, can greatly reduce the chance of fire spreading to those buildings. Discing, scraping, or otherwise removing vegetation, that may become dry during the summer months, a minimum of 30 feet around your property and buildings will help stop a fire if it does occur. If you are in a high fire danger area, the minimum clearance is 100 feet.

Here is a checklist to help remind you what to look for while you tackle the 'Spring Cleanup':

• Remove accumulation of papers, cardboard, and other common combustible materials from you home.

• Clear all weeds at least 30 feet away from all buildings and property lines.

• Do not burn garbage, trash, or other waste products; it is illegal.

• Clean behind stoves, refrigerators, water heaters, and other appliances.

• Check your fire extinguisher. If you don't have one...get one.

• Keep all flammable and combustible liquids away from heat sources (i.e., water heaters, central heating and cooling systems, welders, etc.)

• Keep all flammable and combustible liquids in approved containers and in small amounts.

• Remove electrical cords from under rugs.

• Make sure all doors and windows are in working order and not obstructed.

• Test your smoke alarms monthly.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 63 percent of home fire deaths in 2003 - 2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.

"This is also a good time to check if your address is visible from the street," Mello said. "Your address should be visible from both directions on the street. The numbers should be large and easily seen. Reflective numbers are very helpful."

Escalon Fire Department offers large reflective, custom-made address signs. Call the department at 838-7500 for more information.