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SFMO Reminds Consumers to Close the Door on Fire

A Closed Door Can Limit Property Loss, Increase Survivability of Home Fires
Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 07:48am

NASHVILLE – Even though school is out, fire safety is still in session this summer and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is reminding Volunteer State residents of the lifesaving capabilities of a common household fixture: a door.

A closed door can hinder flames and smoke from spreading to other rooms and can help deprive a fire of the oxygen it needs to grow, limiting the structural damage a fire can cause and, most importantly, saving lives. In fact, closing doors to quarantine a fire is an age-old technique used by firefighters that homeowners should always remember.

“The ‘Close the Door’ message is twofold,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Tennesseans should remember to keep their bedroom door closed when sleeping at night and, should there be a fire, we encourage residents to close the door when exiting a room to keep the fire contained.”

Closing the door can stop the spread of fire in a home allowing time to find alternate escape routes or shelter in place until help arrives. The extra time bought by closing the door has never been more crucial. Forty years ago, residents had over 17 minutes to escape a home fire with their lives—that number is now under 3 minutes. UL cites changing home construction trends, like open floor plans and new construction materials, as one reason for the reduction in time occupants have to escape. Another contributing factor is the toxicity of synthetic fibers often found in modern furniture. When burned, the chemicals given off by synthetic fibers are much more toxic than those of natural fibers like cotton. This can limit the amount of smoke you can take in before being incapacitated.

Closing the door works in conjunction with interconnected smoke alarms. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside each sleeping area, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

The SFMO encourages Tennesseans to remember to following tips related to closing the door:

  • Close the bedroom door when sleeping, if possible. Remember to have smoke alarms inside and outside of each sleeping area. For the best protection, make sure your alarms are interconnected—when one sounds, they all will sound.
  • Close the door behind you when escaping a room or building that is one fire.
  • If you are unable to escape a building that is on fire, close all doors between you and the fire. Use towels or sheets to seal the door cracks and cover air vents. Call the fire department and report your exact location.
  • Keep fire doors closed. These specialized doors are used to compartmentalize a building and prevent the spread of smoke and flames. Never wedge, disable, or prop open fire doors in apartments or other buildings.

For more information about “Close the Door” and other crucial fire safety measures, visit