(This piece was originally published July 8, 2013 and appeared on

Many of you awoke to the news of another raging multiple alarm fire in our neighborhood yesterday. Again, it was a home with more inhabitants than regulation allows, and again it tore through the home as dozens of shell-shocked tenants watched their decision to weigh cost efficiency over safety sink into embers.

Rear porches of 17 Mansfield St. Allston as seen from Royal St. Source of photo unknown
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) July 7, 2013

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this neighborhood is getting too expensive for the people who live here to keep up with. They’re forced to find alternative living situations, which are not only uncomfortable and stressful, but we’ve seen many times in the last few years that they’re incredibly unsafe. The shock is wearing off, the reaction is palpably different for Sunday’s Mansfield St. rager than it was for the frat house a couple summers ago.

It sucks that we have to live like this. If you don’t want to pay $700 for your room, you’re very likely to be stuck living with a lot of people. Sometimes you luck out and get a decent deal, but there are not as many decent deals as there are people. So we make do, we share rooms, we live with people we don’t know.

87 Linden St. Allston
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) April 28, 2013

Site of the April Linden Street fire, at which there were also overcrowding issues similar to yesterday’s fire on Mansfield.

Regardless of the overcrowding issues, we can educate ourselves to avoid getting in these situations. As long as there have been cities, there has been overcrowding. There have been residential fire hazards as long as there have been residents.

I want to share some basic fire safety tips in hopes that we can work together to stay safe.

You can go to the home fire safety page on the City of Boston website for year round safety tips, but here are some more things I think are important:

1. Keep your grills a safe distance from your house. I know the appeal of putting a hibachi on your porch, but it’s really dangerous. Many of us have wide sidewalks out front or back alleys. It may not be as awesome as a porch but it gets the job done.

2. Fireworks are illegal. Don’t buy them. If you are a red-blooded American and don’t care what the law says about your boomsticks, be sure to stay clear of houses and trees. (Pro Tip: the further you are from home, the less likely it will come back to bite you in the ass.)

3. I know that shooting Roman candles off with your hands is literally the coolest, straight-out-of-Hogwarts, most gangsta thing ever, but having hands is really gangsta too, so weigh your options. Hand. Fictional points from a fictional wizard school. I go with hand, personally.

4. Gas and cigarettes don’t go well together. Don’t smoke cigs/weed anywhere near gas grills or gas-powered mowers or whathaveyou.

5. When you’re done smoking, please PROPERLY DISPOSE OF YOUR SMOKING MATERIALS. Improper disposal has been the cause of many of these blazes. Get a million ashtrays. They have them at Urban Renewals for, like, two bucks a piece. Make sure cigs and joints are out. Don’t unpack bowls onto your carpet. Don’t smoke if you’re sleepy, chances are you’ll fall asleep and set the world on fire.

Looking out first floor rear of 17 Mansfield
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) July 7, 2013

6. Finally, just don’t be an idiot.

I know it’s fun to be careless and drink all the beers and say ‘fuck it’ to fire and light fireworks and be badass, but in order to tell these stories to our grandkids we have to live past the summer.

Be aware of your surroundings and if you smell some smoky stuff find out where it’s coming from. If you’re lucky it will be your neighbors BBQing and you’ll make a new friend.

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