New Canaan Fire Marshal’s Safe Ash Disposal Tips


Embers can remain active in ashes for up to five days after a fire dies down, and even then should only be removed into a metal container with tight lid for safe disposal, New Canaan fire safety officials say.

Connecticut already saw one fire caused by improper disposal of fireplaces ashes, and this “happened when ashes from a woodstove were placed outside, adjacent to the foundation of the home which ignited the homes siding,” New Canaan Fire Marshal Fred Baker said.

“The good news is, the family was alerted by a smoke detector and they made a safe escape,” Baker said. “However, their home suffered moderate fire damage and may be uninhabitable for some time.”

Here are Baker’s safe ash disposal tips:

  • Let’em wait! What’s the rush? It’s a fireplace. Fires actually burn better with a bed of ashes.
  • Be mindful that several of the past experiences with improper ash disposal have involved housekeepers or care takers being “helpful” and cleaning out the fireplace and then placing the ashes in the trash.
  • If you insist, use an approved metal container with a tight lid. These are available at Weed and Duryea and other home goods locations.
  • Also little known is the fact that if the improperly disposed of ashes don’t set your house on fire, they can ignite in the garbage truck which is a real quagmire as the truck must quickly dump the load, wherever they are, in the street. That is the true definition of a mess.
  • And if they don’t erupt in the garbage truck, they can create quite a problem when they ignite at the Recycling Center/Transfer Station.

“As you may recall the horrific Christmas morning fire in Stamford three years ago was caused by improper disposal of fireplace ashes,” Baker said. “Please be safe for your family’s sake.”

For additional information regarding this, or any other fire safety topic, please contact the New Canaan Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-594-3030.

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