Generator Safety Information


The State Fire Marshal has developed this informational document to provide homeowners and other residents of New Hampshire with valuable information about generator safety during periods of power outages. Accidental fires from improper refueling methods, improper wiring methods, and carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust can cause severe injuries or death to citizens. In addition, linemen attempting to restore power to the area can be injured or killed if the generator is not installed properly. For additional safety inspections and tips please contact your local Fire Department or this office at (603) 223-4289 or .

Portable Generators
Portable generators should be placed 10 feet from any structure, with the exhaust facing away from the building openings. Deadly exhaust fumes can enter the building through any opening resulting in severe injury or death to unsuspecting occupants.

Never place portable generators on or near combustible surfaces such as decks, porches, or tool sheds. Heat generated by the motor, or improper refueling methods  can start a fire.

Never run portable generators inside any building, including basement areas and garages. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can build up in minutes injuring occupants with little to no warning.

Allow plenty of time to cool the generator before refueling. Gasoline vapors can easily ignite from hot surfaces causing a flash fire and severe injuries.

Always store approved gasoline containers a safe distance from generators while in use. Always store gasoline in an approved container placed in a well ventilated storage area. Never store gasoline products in basements or enclosed areas of your dwelling.

Never modify or construct any power cord so a generator can be connected to a receptacle, dryer or range outlet.

Never connect a generator directly to panelboard without a means to prevent inadvertent connection to the normal supply system wiring. Connecting a generator directly to an electrical outlet or to a panelboard without a transfer switch or an interlocking device could result in a situation where power from the generator could energize the utility’s wiring (back feeds into the utility system). Electrical power from a generator back fed through your meter into the utility system can cause fires, serious injury or death to utility workers trying to repair the lines in the street, or electricians working on nearby property’s electrical systems.

Unless you are the owner of, and are occupying, a single family residence or meet one of the exceptions in RSA 319-C, a license is required to perform the electrical installation for connection of a generator to premises wiring. Therefore, a properly licensed master electrician must perform the electrical installation. In all cases the electrical installation must meet the minimum requirements of the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70-2008).

Although the generator is portable, an electrical permit and inspection may be required by the local jurisdiction for the installation of electrical wiring and equipment for connecting the generator to the premises wiring. Therefore it would be prudent to contact the local jurisdiction to ascertain whether an electrical permit is required.

Stationary Generator Installations
In many cases property owners have chosen to install a stationary generator. In addition to the above mentioned items, stationary generators used for an alternate source of power require additional considerations. Along with the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70-2008) the requirements of other documents, that are either adopted directly or by reference by the State of New Hampshire, must be adhered to. Examples of these documents and the types of requirements they contain are:

NFPA 37, Standard for the Installation and Use of Stationary Combustion
Engines and Gas Turbines (2002 Edition)
NFPA 54, National Fuel Gas Code (2003 Edition)
The Manufacturers Instructions


The pending arrival of winter snow storms raises safety concerns from NH State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan. The threat of power outages from winter storms increases the threat of carbon monoxide exposures from the use of generators.

Unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills and injures people across the nation and New Hampshire each year. “Generators are one of the most common source of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning in New Hampshire”, warned State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan, “but carbon monoxide can also be a problem with temporary cooking appliances or space heaters, motor vehicles left running in attached garages or adjacent to a building, generators used during power outages or any other type of fuel burning appliance.

When using a generator have it at least ten feet from your home with the exhaust facing away from the house. Never run a generator inside of any building including a garage with an open door. Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer. You cannot see, taste or smell carbon monoxide, but it can cause severe health problems or death. It is important that everyone have carbon monoxide detectors where they sleep.”

Degnan states that it is critical that every home has at least one smoke detector on each floor level and they are interconnected.  Fire Marshal Degnan emphasizes that “every family should develop and practice a home fire escape plan. Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, and matches and lighters should be kept out of the reach of children at all times.”

For further information concerning home fire safety, contact your local fire department or the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
































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