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As students move in, fire officials emphasize safety in wake of Allston fire that displaced 20

"Since January of 2000, 86% of all college and university fire fatalities across the nation occurred on off-campus housing."

The night before city officials organized a press conference to discuss plans for student move-in week, a fire displaced roughly 20 residents in Allston – many of them students.

During the press conference on Linden Street in Allston on Wednesday afternoon, Boston Fire Marshal Joseph Shea told the public, “I want everybody to look back at their time in Boston as a positive experience. We look at safety, obviously, as our paramount concern.”

On Tuesday night, around 8 p.m., approximately 20 residents were displaced from a four-story building at 10-12 Glenville Ave. in Allston. “A good portion of them were students,” Shea said.

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“It’s not a very good way to start out your academic career in higher education,” he said.

Listing some statistics from Campus Firewatch, Shea noted, “Since January of 2000, 86% of all college and university fire fatalities across the nation occurred on off-campus housing. Five of the more common factors include lack of automatic sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless disposal of smoking material, impaired judgement from alcohol consumption, and fires originating from upholstered furniture on decks and porches.”

Adding some other scenarios that he has seen in his “26 years of fire service,” Shea said that Boston does not allow the use of grills — either propane or charcoal — above the first floor of a building, or any type of open burning in the city. Though people can purchase fire pits in Boston, they cannot legally use them here, he said.

“Beware of candles,” the fire official added. “The slightest breeze can turn a curtain into a wick.”

Shea also warned that people should be careful where they leave their phones, laptops, and other electronics plugged in, especially if they are touching any “fabrics or combustible surfaces.”

“Many fires are started by someone falling asleep while they’re using their laptop or phone and covering it accidentally with a blanket,” he said. “Electronic equipment gives off heat. This heat has to be allowed to dissipate.

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“If you smell smoke or hear a fire alarm, do not assume someone else is calling 911,” Shea continued. “Get out of bed and investigate.”

‘Allston Christmas’

Other city officials, including Dion Irish, chief of operations in Boston; Sean Lydon, commissioner of the inspectional services department; Brad Gerratt, deputy commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department; and Mike Brohel, superintendent of street operations; spoke about their efforts to manage the chaos that is moving week around Boston.

The days leading up to and following the popular Sept. 1 move-in date in Boston are commonly referred to as “Allston Christmas” due to the amount of discarded furniture and other trash found on street corners. Though many people know and follow the sentiment behind the phrase “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” at least one city official disagrees.

“If you want to bring something from the trash, there’s a reason why it’s in the trash,” Lydon warned after a reporter asked about the safety of taking things from the street, particularly with the presence of bed bugs and other infestations on mattresses, etc. in the city.

“I’d think twice, three times about bringing it home,” he said.

Lydon also noted that his department will have roughly 60 building, housing, environmental sanitation, electrical, and mechanical inspectors walking throughout the city’s neighborhoods, ensuring that moving processes are going smoothly, especially in student-heavy areas. Inspectors will be checking buildings for any rodent infestation, deferred maintenance, and other issues, he said.

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Also during the press conference, Gerratt pointed out that parking restrictions are in effect, so residents should keep an eye out for the more than 1,000 temporary “no parking” signs that have been distributed throughout the city – unless they wish to pay a fine.

Brohel reminded residents to keep the city clean, noting that trash should not go out on the street until 5 p.m. the night before their regular trash day to reduce the clutter in neighborhoods.

Connor Newman, special assistant in the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services, encouraged residents to call 311 with any concerns amid move-in week. Residents can also call 617-635-4500, visit boston.gov/311, or download the 311 app to report any issues. Newman noted that there is currently a student move-in section to streamline reports of issues related to housing inadequacies, etc.

The full press conference can be found below:

Additionally, more details on Tuesday night’s fire in Allston can be found in tweets shared by the Boston Fire Department below:

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