SASKATOON – Improperly disposed smoking materials have been responsible for 23 fires in Saskatoon over the past 18 months, causing almost $5 million in damage.
It’s a number officials with the Saskatoon Fire Department wants to reduce and they are offering tips for reducing the risk of fires started from disposed cigarettes and cigars.
Officials say with changing social norms, it is more common for people to smoke outside in areas that contain flammable materials.
This can lead to a fire developing if the smoking material is not entirely extinguished; if cigarette butts are allowed to accumulate in a container; or if peat moss, dry leaves or decking material have butts dropped on them.
A great danger is a fire going unnoticed from smoking materials.
Fires often start close to a home, igniting exterior walls and then travelling to the roof and attic.
This puts everyone inside at risk as often there is no smoke in the house rendering smoke detectors ineffective. Many times, it is a neighbour or passerby who notices the fire.
To reduce the risk, the Saskatoon Fire Department is recommending these tips:
1. Have a metal container or ceramic pot with a lid to dispose of smoking materials, including butts and ashes;
2. Leave a container outside for guests to use;
3. Never extinguish smoking material in planters as peat moss in those can smoulder for hours before suddenly bursting in flames;
4. Never throw burning cigarette butts out a vehicle’s window and onto the street;
5. Make sure smoking materials are completely extinguished and there is nothing in the vicinity that could catch fire like dry grass or cedar trees.