Spring is the traditional time for sprucing up landscaping around our buildings, and this spring will be the second with a mulch fire safety regulation in effect.

The regulation was developed in response to several significant fires in the Commonwealth involving mulch-wood products. The most recent was this past weekend in Foxborough at the Lakeview Pavilion, a popular wedding destination. The building caught fire after a cigarette was discarded in the mulch.

Auburn Fire Rescue Chief Stephen M. Coleman Jr. wants to alert landscaping companies, nurseries, building owners and managers about the proper placement and storage of mulch in order to prevent fires.

The revised regulation, took effect in September 2012 and prohibits the new application of mulch within 18” around combustible exteriors of buildings, such as wood or vinyl, but not brick or concrete.

The revised regulation also has safety requirements for those who store or manufacture mulch. It limits the size of mulch piles and requires a distance of 30-feet between piles and 25-feet from the lot line.

Large piles of mulch can easily spontaneously combust with all the heat they generate, so it’s important to be vigilant and employ good housekeeping. The distance between piles prevents a fire in one from easily spreading to another or to a building. Permits are required from the fire department wherever more than 300 cubic yards of mulch is produced or stored.

Below is a safety brochure on how to prevent mulch fires. Any questions should be directed to Captain Stephen Anderson in the Bureau of Community Risk Reduction, 508-407-7630.  Mulch Fire Safety Brochure.