As the weather gets warmer, Langford Fire Rescue is urging residents to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly and is even giving out free pocket ashtrays to help them do so.
“A concern in the department is cigarettes and the effect they can have on causing wildfires,” said Capt. Simon Chadwick, who also works in fire prevention with Langford Fire Rescue.
Despite the rain on April 23, the fire department dealt with a fire in a garden bed on Merchant Way caused by an improperly discarded cigarette butt. While it’s early in the fire season, Chadwick said more fires might come about when trails open again and people, some who smoke on the trails, flock to them.
“It’s really important you discard cigarettes properly,” Chadwick said. “Make sure it’s completely out, don’t smoke on trails or in areas where there’s brush and go to the fire hall to get one of the pocket ashtrays.”
The reusable pocket ashtrays are a convenient tool to dispose of cigarette butts safely when there aren’t any other responsible options, Chadwick noted.
A Facebook post from Langford Fire Rescue about the April 23 fire says the department tries to educate the public on proper disposal of smoking materials every year, but that they “still struggle with people butting cigarette butts out in garden beds.”
At one point last June, Langford Fire Rescue doused five fires caused by discarded cigarette butts in two days. At the time, Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey said the fires took place in dry flowerbeds near businesses. He noted that stomping on a cigarette butt or flicking the ash off it is not enough to extinguish it.
“The heat is still there and if the wind picks up it can blow into a combustible area like nearby grass,” Aubrey said, adding, “the world is not a personal ashtray.”
The pocket ashtrays can be picked up from Langford Fire Rescue by calling fire prevention at 250-478-9555.