May 14, 2013
Spring is the traditional time for sprucing up landscaping around our buildings and this
spring will be the first one with a new mulch fire safety regulation in effect. The
regulation was developed in response to several significant fires in the Commonwealth
involving mulch-wood products. Auburn Fire 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, 527 CMR 17 , took effect last September 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 Fire Prevention and Investigation, 508-407-7630.
Mulch FireFactor- a one-page, 2-sided educational hand-out on mulch fire safety and the regulation.
Contact: Chief Stephen M. Coleman Jr.