54 E. Water Street

Chillicothe, Ohio 45601-2544

Bruce Vaughan, Fire Chief


As important as an efficient suppression force is, it will always be more economic to prevent fires than to put them out. The cost goes far beyond the money lost to repairs of the structure and replacement of lost inventories, especially when considering the lives lost to the ravages of fire. Employees lose wages and the community in general loses due to lost tax base. Many businesses never fully recover from major fire losses even with insurance.

We attempt to be proactive rather than reactive in our enforcement and prevention efforts by conducting fire inspections of the various businesses in the city and enforcing the Ohio Fire Code. Inspectors Jeff Smith and Brandon Bentley are the department's enforcement arms. While their primary job responsibilities are as Firefighters, they have accepted the additional duties of Fire Safety Inspectors.


We often get requests for fire prevention materials. The following links are for all the materials we have available on line. While we have some of these documents available at the fire house, quantities are very limited in nearly all cases.


Basic Fire Safety Advice

Burning Wood Safely

Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer In Your Home

Get Out Alive and Survive

A Guide To Portable Fire Extinguishers

Hidden Hazards In Your Home

Home Fire Escape Drill



Home Fire Safety Check List

Safe Selection and Use of Kerosene Heaters

Smoke Detectors and Fire Safety Guide for Older Ohioans

Fire Safety For Healthcare Workers

Smoke Detectors - Don't Stay Home Without One

Installing Your Woodstove Safely


NFPA Operation Decoration
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and NFPA have partnered to remind consumers about the importance of safe holiday decorating habits. This test was conducted by NFPA and UL.

Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. Note:  These statistics are based on fires that started with Christmas trees and do not include fires starting with other products. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can very quickly become large.

 Facts & figures

  • Christmas trees were the items first ignited in an estimated average of 210 reported U.S. home structure fires per year in 2002-2005. These fires caused an average of 24 civilian deaths, 27 civilian injuries, and $13.3 million in direct property damage per year. These statistics include both real and artificial trees.

  • On average, one in every 9 reported home Christmas tree fire resulted in a death.

  • Almost half (48%) of the home Christmas tree fires were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction. Twenty-seven percent of the Christmas tree fires resulted from a heat source placed too close to the tree. Five percent resulted from someone, typically a child, playing with fire or other heat source.

  • Holiday lights (or other decorative lighting with live voltage) were involved in 22% of the home Christmas tree structure fires. Fixed or portable space heaters were involved in 7% of these incidents. No equipment was involved in 36% of these fires.

  • Candles were the heat source in 15% of the home Christmas tree fires per year between 2002 and 2005.

  • Two-thirds of the home Christmas tree fires were reported in December, 19% were reported in January.

  • During the same five-year period, 90 outside and other non-structure, non-vehicle fires on home properties started with Christmas trees, on average, per year. Two-thirds of these fires occurred in January. Sixty-four percent were intentionally set. 

Source: NFPA's "Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires" report by Marty Ahrens, November 2007.

US Fire Administration

A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

  • Christmas Tree Fire Hazards - Movie segments demonstrating how fast a live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames. Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

  • Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
    Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

  • Caring for Your Tree
    Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

  • Disposing of Your Tree
    Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights

  • Maintain Your Holiday Lights
    Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

  • Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
    Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.

  • Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended

Holiday Decorations

  • Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
    All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

  • Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
    It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.

  • Artificial Christmas Trees
    If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

  • Avoid Using Lit Candles
    If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

  • Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
    Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.


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