According to the U.S Fire Administration, there are over 6,000 garage fires every year. Lack of proper fire safety measures causes an average of over $450 million in property damages and hundreds of injuries. Since an attached garage is physically connected to the house, a fire here is more likely to spread into the living areas than a fire that starts in a detached garage.
Fire Hazards in the Garage
The garage often contains hazardous and flammable materials. Oil can leak from your car, gasoline for the lawnmower may be stored in the garage, and the area can become cluttered with belongings intended for storage. Other fire hazards in the garage include the propane tank for your grill, paints, solvents, lighter fluid, and brake fluid.
If the water heater is in the garage, it should be installed above the floor by at least 18 inches. The pilot light on the appliance could ignite flammable materials or fumes if the water heater is installed on the floor.
Fire Safety: Preventing the Spread
To make sure you and your family get an early warning of fire, install a smoke alarm in the garage.
Because a garage isn’t part of the living space in the house, a fire that starts there can go undetected for a long time. The fire can grow quickly in the garage and cause a great deal of damage before spreading into the home.
Fire-rated drywall should be installed in or on the walls that separate the garage from the house. This type of drywall comes in ½” and ⅝” thicknesses and offers increased resistance to fire.
For safety, any door leading from the garage into the home should be self-closing and have a tight seal. If the garage has an attic access panel, the panel should be of a fire-rated material. Cardboard or thin plywood is not adequate to cover the attic access, as both materials are highly flammable.
Garage Fire Safety Tips
To make your garage a safer place, keep the area tidy. Clean up after any projects, store the propane tank outdoors, and keep any chemicals clearly labeled and in tightly sealed containers. When you leave the garage, make sure to unplug any tools or appliances. Don’t use space heaters or any fuel-burning stoves inside the garage or anywhere flammable materials are present.