Cigarette butts caused both weekend fires
Cigarette butts caused both weekend fires
Septebmer 14, 2017
Barrie Examiner
Article by: Cheryl Browne
 
Wasaga Beach's Fire Chief Mike McWilliam took this photo of a deck planter that caught fire after a cigarette was butted out in the peat moss. PHOTO: SPECIAL MIKE MCWILLIAM

Wasaga Beach's Fire Chief Mike McWilliam took this photo of a deck planter that caught fire after a cigarette was butted out in the peat moss. PHOTO: SPECIAL MIKE MCWILLIAM

Here’s a butt, there’s a butt, everywhere there’s cigarette butts.
 
It’s not just the unsightly mess of seeing the tiny, white and orange nubs thrown carelessly about that has firefighters’ fuming, it’s also their dangerous ability to smoulder that has sparked outrage.
 
Last year, 27% of Barrie fires were caused by smoking and cigarette-lighting materials, said Barrie fire prevention and safety officer, Samantha Hoffmann.
 
She said cigarette-related fires accounted for more than $1 million in lost contents and property damage in 2016.
 
“It is still the No. 2 cause of preventable fires in Ontario and the leading cause of preventable fatal fires,” Hoffmann said.
 
Two fires in Barrie on Sunday, one on Grove Street East and another at 90 Edgehill D., were both caused by careless smoking, she added.
 
Wasaga Beach Fire Chief Mike McWilliam used Twitter to share his frustration about carelessly tossed cigarette butts.
 
McWilliam shared a photo he took of a homeowner’s deck that had burned after a cigarette snuffed out in a planter started a fire.
 
“A lot of these planters you put on decks, unless you put your own black dirt in them, they have this dry mossy, fluffy dirt,” McWilliam said. “Once it dries out, it’s very flammable.”
 
He said Wasaga Beach firefighters went to a deck fire last year after a cigarette rolled down between the cracks and set the leaves underneath on fire.
 
McWilliam said smokers should use metal cans filled with sand for their cigarette ends and then soak them before discarding them in the trash.
 
Barrie’s Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Weber said an ash or ember from a cigarette can smoulder for up to three hours before flames are visible.
 
“If less people smoked, less children would have access to smoker’s materials and the city would be a safer place to live,” Weber said.
 
The Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) hosted a filter pick-up day earlier this summer to clean up the sidewalks and city streets.
 
A partnership between the City of Barrie and the BIA helped buy 23 cigarette-butt receptacles to dispose of – and help recycle – the ends of smokes.
 
The Terracycle fixtures are helping rid the planet of the estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts tossed each year.
 
Although people believe cigarette filters are biodegradable, each filter is partially comprised of a cellulose acetate inside that is dangerous to the environment.
 
However, when recycled, filters can be mechanically separated with the acetate turned into plastic pellets that can be used to build plastic pallets or skids.