Memorial Day Safety Tips from the San Rafael Fire Department

The following was submitted for publication by San Rafael Fire Department Fire Chief Christopher Gray:

On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom we enjoy. The men and women of the San Rafael Fire Department wish you a respectful, fun and safe Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of the Summer season when many travel and celebrate.

Please keep safety at the forefront whether you are traveling or enjoying the time at home or nearby.   We offer a few tips that will help to keep everyone safe.  

Travel Safety

  • Please don’t drink and drive.
  • Try to avoid following another vehicle too closely.
  • Pay attention – avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches. Don’t overdrive your headlights.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Wild Fire

It’s Fire Season and as your Fire Chief, please know that our best efforts to combat a wildfire are before it ever occurs.


Due to the extended drought, the fire season in 2014 is here early and be severe. Residents play an important role in the safety of homes and neighborhoods.


Ready, Set, Go! is a wildfire action plan developed for residents that we have adopted in San Rafael and Marin County. It provides information about ways to prepare homes and property in order to prevent fires.


The Fire Department is available to visit neighborhood groups to discuss wildfire safety and help your neighborhood become prepared.


Please contact your local fire station for more information and please remain extra vigilant.  If you see suspicious or unusual  activity or spot smoke or a fire…call 9-1-1 immediately!


Grill Safety

  • It is anticipated that many backyard barbecue’s will be in use over the course of this long holiday weekend and throughout the summer months. Please exercise caution and keep safety in mind when setting up, using and cleaning your BBQ grill.  Unattended cooking remains the number one cause of fires and fire related injuries in San Rafael and throughout Marin Country.  This includes both inside and outside cooking: Please Watch What You Heat!
  • Please NEVER use a grill indoors including garages, overhangs and canopies
  • Grills are not permitted on balconies of apartments and condominium apartments within 10’ of combustible construction.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of sand nearby to douse a grill fire that gets out of control.
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  •  When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container add water before disposal.  Keep ash container off of your wood deck and away from your house. We have experienced many fires due to improper disposal of hot ashes and briquettes.

Propane grills

  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Water Safety

The weather forecast is calling for a nice Holiday weekend and many residents will be taking full advantage of swimming pools, lakes or beach.  Placing water safety first will help to prevent a family tragedy.

Parents and Guardians:

  • Please keep a close eye on your children and never leave them unattended.  A lack of adult supervision is one of the leading contributing
  • Do not rely on flotation devices to protect your children from drowning. You must supervise at all times.
  • Have a phone with you in the event you need to call 9-1-1.
  • Have children swim in pairs - the "buddy system"
  • If a child is missing - check the pool first.
  • Teach your child how to swim
  • Visit http://docs.cityofsanrafael.org/ComSvcs/Aquatics%202014/TL/2014%20Terra%20Linda%20Pool%20Swim%20Lessons.pdf for additional information.


For residents with pools:


  • Install a fence around the perimeter of the pool.
  • Use self-closing latches and gates.
  • Install a door alarm from the house to the pool area.
  • Have lifesaving equipment nearby such as life rings or reaching poles   


Please do not hesitate to call us at 9-1-1 or stop by your neighborhood fire station. 


We’re always here to help.


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