Fire Safety Tip – Discard Fireplace Ashes Properly

Every year fire departments in the Washington, DC area respond to house fires caused by improperly discarded fireplace ashes. RVFD and MCFRS personnel have responded to multiple fires this winter causes by improperly discarded fireplace ashes.

FACT: Many people don’t realize the length of time required for ashes to cool enough for disposal. Coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to reignite and start a fire for many days after the fire is out. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning, how much unburned fuel remains, etc.

BE SAFE: Treat ALL ashes and coals as HOT ashes, even when you think they had time enough to cool. Take care to dispose of them wisely. Your house, deck or garage are unsafe locations for storing ashes while they cool and have been the site of many recent and devastating fires both locally and nationally. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside and at least 10 feet from your home or nearby buildings.

Follow these simple fire safety tips:

  • Do not discard your ashes into any combustible container such as a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.
  • Do not place ash containers on decks, porches or in garages.
  • Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.
  • Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.
  • Keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from your fireplace or stove and anything combustible.
  • Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or wood stove.


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