Smoking Controls to Reduce the Risk of Cigarette Fires

In recent years, there have been an increased number of states that have enacted laws for prohibiting or restricting smoking at worksites, restaurants and bars.  Before 2004, there were only two states with complete smoking bans at worksites, restaurants and bars. With these restrictions in place, proper disposal of spent smoking materials, the correct location of designated smoking areas and effective housekeeping controls become very important because it limits ignition sources and reduces the ability of a fire to spread.

Regardless of whether or not your establishment allows smoking, the following measures should be taken to decrease the likelihood of a fire and/or in the event of a fire, reduce the possibility of it spreading.

  • cigaretteDesignate smoking areas at least 25 feet away from buildings, combustible materials, combustible vegetation or refuse collection areas.
  • Areas that allow smoking and areas that prohibit smoking should be clearly marked with appropriate signage.
  • All smoking materials should be disposed of in acceptable receptacles and kept away from ignition sources.
  • Disposal devices should be appropriately marked, be constructed of non-combustible materials, and have steep sides to keep materials inside the device.
  • If smoking is allowed inside the building, then properly designed ashtrays should be provided in smoking areas to prevent cigarette butts or ashes from falling or rolling onto combustible materials.
  • Ashtrays should only be dumped into designated disposal containers with a lid and filled with a medium that can safely extinguish fire, such as sand or water.
  • If smoking materials are going to be placed into a dumpster they should be thoroughly wetted down with water. Smoking materials may still be smoldering so it is best to wet these down prior to placement in a garbage dumpster.
  • Make sure your dumpster is located at a minimum of 10 feet away from the building, but further away is preferred.
  • A fire extinguisher should be placed in the area with a maximum travel distance of 75 feet away from the smoking area.

When it comes to risk management, prevention is key. Browse our online risk control library for handouts and useful websites to help facilitate your safety and health efforts.

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