Fire prevention rules for old houses

July 25, 2008
By

The June 13 Gazette cover photo of the historic house at 1 Dane St. in flames was so poignant. The owners had been restoring the house, which many consider one of Jamaica Plain’s most important historic houses, for more than a year. In the homestretch, after most of the work was done and the outside was being painted, the house went up in flames.

It is a tragedy. And it should not have happened.

All property owners should learn from this tragedy. The story reminded me of so many others. Here are a few rules old house owners should adopt to make sure fire doesn’t destroy any more of Jamaica Plain:

• Never allow painters or others to use open flame torches on your house. Never!

• When using heat plates or heat guns to remove paint, wet the surfaces down before and after working. If the wood is scorched, the heat plate or gun has been kept in one spot too long.

• Keep a working hose or fire extinguisher handy.

• And stick around after the work is done each day to make sure nothing is smoldering.

Hopefully, the Dane Street tragedy can serve as a wake-up call to the rest of our neighborhood.

Wendy Nicholas
Director
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Northeast Office
The writer is a Jamaica Plain resident.

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