With chilly mornings and leaves falling, Kingsport’s annual leaf pickup program is underway. The Kingsport Fire Department also uses this month to promote kitchen safety. We should take heed, since half of house fires are connected to that room.

Leaf collection continues through the middle of January. The city sweeps through each neighborhood about nine times during the season, picking up leaves raked to the curb along six routes. There are no set days or times for leaf collection, and depending on volume and availability of equipment, the turnaround for the service can run as short as a week to up to three weeks.

The city asks that leaves be placed within 8 feet of the edge of the street, but not in the street. Raking leaves into the roadway is a violation subject to fine for blocking traffic. Do not cover any catch basins or drainage tiles or rake the leaves into the storm sewer. Keep all leaf piles clean and free of trash, limbs or other yard debris. Bagged leaves are acceptable.

The city uses three automated vacuum trucks, one non-automated vacuum truck, and two tagalong leaf collection trucks for this work, collecting from 1,800 to 2,000 tons of leaves each season to be taken to the demolition landfill, where they are mulched and used in landscaping projects across the city or sold to the public.

For more information on where trucks are working each day, call the Leaf Line at (423) 224-2429 or go to kingsporttn.gov.

The Kingsport Fire Department reminds that cooking is the leading cause of house fires and house fire injuries, with two-thirds of cooking fires starting with the ignition of food or cooking materials.

The department encourages residents to integrate kitchen safety into their routines. “The most important step you should take before making a meal is to “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,’” says KFD Public Education Officer Barry Brickey. “A cooking fire can grow quickly. I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.”

The department offers these safety tips to keep you from having a cooking fire not just in October, but all year round.

Never leave cooking food unattended. If you have to leave even for a short time, turn off the stove. Check cooking food regularly and remain in the home while food is cooking if you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food.

Use a timer to remind yourself when to take food items out of the stove, oven or microwave. Remain alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy or have taken medicine or drugs or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.

Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.

And have a kid-free zone of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

To learn more about fire prevention programs and activities in Kingsport, contact Brickey at (423) 224-2820. For fire safety information, visit fpw.org.