“All it takes is one moment; carelessly discarding a cigarette butt can drastically change your life," says Lemuel Hubbard, fire prevention coordinator. "That one cigarette can cause a fire that destroys 20 townhomes or a blaze that does the same to a three-story apartment complex and 50 acres of wildland."
These are just a few examples of fires the Raleigh Fire Department has battled. In our City, fires that start with improperly disposed smoking materials are on top of two lists. They threaten the largest number of lives and cause the most property damage.
In 2020, there were 1,029 fires within the City of Raleigh. At least 150 of them were caused by smoking materials (cooking is another major cause of structure fires).
To change that, the department is working on increasing the community’s knowledge about the dangers of improperly discarded smoking materials. Its ongoing “Help Us Out. Put It Out.” campaign focuses on the topic.
“These fires typically start outside so there’s no fire detection equipment to warn anyone,” says Hubbard. “Improperly discarded smoking material fires also have the potential to affect more than one home, meaning multiple families are at risk of losing everything.”
What Can I Do?
A study by the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association recommends emphasizing the importance of making behavioral changes. Here are some actions you can take:
- If you smoke, smoke outside. Make sure the fire is completely out.
- Whenever you smoke, use a deep, wide and sturdy ashtray. Set the ashtray on something sturdy and hard to ignite.
- Before you throw out cigarette butts and ashes, make sure they are completely out. Dowsing them in water or sand is the best way to do that.
The fire department’s “Help Us Out. Put it Out.” campaign aims to reduce the number of fires caused by smoking materials. Visit our Help Us Out, Put It Page for more tips.