The Honolulu Fire Department says it receives an average of 12 calls on a typical day to report that an imu fire will be lit.
On the day before Thanksgiving Day, the number of reported imu fires increases to more than 250.
On Thanksgiving Day, the number decreases to about 100, possibly because preparations commonly occur the night before.
To make your Thanksgiving dinner a success, HFD is reminding everyone to observe the following county fire code requirements:
- Obtain approval from the owner, operator, or manager of the property where you plan to light an imu fire.
- Dig your imu where its fire cannot accidentally spread and create a fire hazard.
- Avoid placing your imu where its smoke will blow into or across homes.
- Notify your county fire department dispatch center prior to lighting your imu fire. In Honolulu, the number to call is 723-FIRE (723-3473).
If you see smoke from across the valley, down the street, or next door, make note of the following tips when you aren’t sure of its source:
Forests and Fields
Any smoke coming from a forested area or open field should be immediately reported by calling 911.
Around Homes or Buildings
Most folks know what hibachi smoke looks like -- small and light in color. However, if you see a larger amount of smoke, especially if the smoke increases in size and intensity, call 911. If it is an imu fire, hopefully, the HFD will have been informed, as required, and the dispatcher will let you know.
Try to be as accurate as possible when describing where the smoke is originating. If it is far away, give the dispatcher your location and the position of landmarks or buildings in relation to the smoke.
Whether you are lighting an imu fire or using a small barbecue grill, be considerate of your neighbors.
Place your cooking fire where the smoke will least affect your neighbors. Consider the wind at the time and where it will push the smoke. Remember that the elderly and those with health problems can be more sensitive to smoke.
Finally, understand that whether you’re only using a small grill at home or you have an imu and informed the HFD’s Fire Communication Center, your fire can still be ordered to be extinguished or moved if the responding Fire Captain determines it is a fire hazard or the fire’s smoke is a nuisance that inconveniences others.