Chico Fire Department hopes students ‘Drop and Dash’ old couches


A couch fire set in April last year. Photo Credit: Brittany McClintock

Bridget Comito

Chico State’s history of setting couches on fire has caused much risk and hazard to the community, according to the Chico Fire Department. Because of this trend, the department has created a program known as Drop and Dash.

The event will be hosted on May 24 and 26 at the Chico Fire Department from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for both days and Orange Street will be closed off for the event.

Over 400 fires were started last year in Chico, half of which were intentionally caused. Some of which are the result of couches or mattresses that are left on porches and often set on fire.

This map from December shows more than half of arson charges and couch burning occur in the south campus neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Chico Fire Department


Drop and Dash was established to reduce the illegal dumping of couches in the Chico community by allowing Chico State students to drop off their old or unusable couches and mattresses. The event is one step the Chico Fire Department is taking to enhance the overall safety of the community.

Bill Hack, the fire chief of the Chico Fire Department, believes the city has experienced too many close calls regarding couch fires. He’s worked in the department for 21 years. Some residents have been forced to jump out of windows to evacuate their home after setting a couch or mattress on fire.

Taken by Bill Hack
A house on fire resulting from a couch fire. Photo courtesy of Fire Chief Bill Hack


“We’ve had a lot of close calls where people have intentionally set couches and mattresses leaning against houses,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before something catastrophic happens.”

The value of the program has added benefit that can reduced the risk of life and property in the community of Chico by eliminating couches, mattresses, and other household items that could be set on fire.

The department also sent an email to the Chico State community on Wednesday with several reminders about the upcoming graduation weekend:

  • Intentionally lighting furniture on fire can be charged as a felony.
  • Undercover members of the Fire Investigation Team (FIT) will be deployed.
  • Chico prohibits combustible interior furniture in areas viewable from a public right of way.
Fire Chief Bill Hack exhibits a house near Fourth and Ivy Street with a couch on the porch. Photo credit: Bridget Comito
Fire Chief Bill Hack exhibits a house near Fourth and Ivy Street with a couch on the porch. Photo credit: Bridget Comito

An ordinance banning furniture on patios was passed by the Chico City Council in December.

Bridget Comito can be reached at [email protected] or @bcineg1992 on Twitter.