State Fire Marshal’s Office Reminds Tennesseans to Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen for Thanksgiving

November 21, 2022

As families across Tennessee gather for Thanksgiving Day feasts on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) remind Tennesseans that the recipe for a safe celebration includes fire safe cooking habits.

Unfortunately, cooking equipment is a major contributor to home fires. In Tennessee, 24% of reported home structure fires in 2021 involved cooking equipment. Those 1,515 fires resulted in nine civilian fatalities, 21 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries, and an estimated $8.4 million in direct property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.

“As a lifelong firefighter, I have firsthand experience witnessing the danger to firefighters and the devastation that can be caused by cooking fires,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “I am reminding Tennesseans to practice fire-safe behavior this Thanksgiving in order to protect themselves, their families, and Tennessee firefighters who may be called to respond to a fire.”

To aid Tennesseans who may be cooking this year, the SFMO offers these Thanksgiving fire safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions in the kitchen. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling. If you have to leave the room, even for a moment, turn off the stove’s burners.
  • Never consume alcohol while cooking.
  • Use a kitchen timer when boiling, simmering, baking, or roasting to remind yourself to check what you are cooking.
  • Use caution with turkey fryers. Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and kept a safe distance from homes, buildings, and other flammable materials.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat and could boil over, resulting in a fire.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure your turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  • In the event of a kitchen fire, never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Instead, put a lid over the flame, exit the home and call your local fire department by dialing 9-1-1.
  • Make sure your home’s smoke alarms are working.

Need working smoke alarms? Contact your local fire department and ask if they participate in our “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program.