As the winter season officially arrives, residents are reminded that fireplace and woodstove ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire. The rule to remember is: never put ashes in a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box or plastic bucket.
“Embers often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to rekindle a fire for several days,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “We want residents to enjoy their fireplaces, wood stoves and grills but to always take care to dispose of the ashes wisely.”
The Division of Solid Waste Services (Dept. of Environmental Protection) joins the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service in reminding residents never to put out ashes from fireplaces for collection with their regular household trash unless they have been thoroughly soaked with water in a metal ash bucket with a tight fitting metal lid and designed for that purpose, or held in place for at least a week to ensure there are no residual embers.
Store any container holding ash outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials. Ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire.
Cooled ashes may be brought to the Shady Grove Road Processing Facility and Transfer Station for disposal in specifically-designated ash containers. The Transfer Station is located at 16101 Frederick Rd., Derwood (off Rt. 355 at Shady Grove Rd.).
When delivering ash, residents are asked to use the Frederick Rd. (Rt. 355) entrance just south of Shady Grove Rd. The Transfer Station's Public Unloading Facility (PUF) -- also called the "Car Ramp" -- has several steel drums marked specifically for ash disposal. The drums are located between trash drop-off bays. Contractor staff verifies that the ash has cooled off before taking it to the rubble drop-off area for disposal.
“Hot ashes that are not properly cooled and disposed are significant fire hazards, capable of starting fires when mixed in loads of waste in refuse collection trucks, on rail cars on their way to waste disposal facilities or while waste is actually being processed at the County’s Transfer Station,” said Dan Locke, chief of the Division of Solid Waste Services.
MCFRS and DSWS both want residents to be aware that the risk of fire becomes even greater when it is windy. The wind can reignite embers and potentially send them toward nearby combustibles, such as homes.
Two other helpful ash safety hints from MCFRS are: never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes and always have working smoke alarms on every level of the home and test them monthly.
For more information, including photos of the Transfer Station disposal site, visit the DSWS website
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Contacts: DFRS: Assistant Chief Scott Graham, Public Information Officer,
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Phone: 240-876-1260; Media line: 240.777.2442; @MCFirePIO
DSWS: Eileen Kao, 240-777-6406