Safety Spot: How do I get rid of those ashes?

By Jim Buell, 2nd Assistant Chief, Shelburne Fire Department

Within the last two weeks, your local fire department has responded to two calls of brush fires (which seemed odd to us since it is very cold, and we have had some snow). Normally, we do not have any brush or grass fires in late November. The reason for these brush and grass fires: improper disposal of fireplace and wood stove ashes.

Please do not place the hot ashes in paper bags or any kind of plastic container. You may think they have cooled off, but they can still be warm enough to generate enough heat to start another fire. The proper way to dispose of them is in a metal container until you dispose of them more permanently. A small, metal garbage can with a metal lid will protect you, your family, and your property. Please use a metal shovel to move the ashes so you don’t get burned, and put the can outside. There are documented cases of improper disposal igniting a house and totally destroying it. I remember responding to just this instance one Christmas Eve (not here in Shelburne, thank goodness). That was devastating to the family and to the first responder’s as well – a very sad situation.

If we just stop for a moment and think through what we are doing, we will make the correct decision and protect our property and our family. All it takes is one quick moment of a poor decision and the consequences can be profound. Safety begins with each and every one of us. Let us all enjoy the warmth and ambiance that a wood fire provides; please do it safely. Make sure your smoke detectors are working as well.

If you have any questions as to what to do for proper ash disposal, feel free to call the non-emergency number at the station (985-2366). Leave a message and one of us will get back to you. We want you to be safe. And remember …

Fire Prevention/Safety isn’t just one week of the year but all 52!

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