Issue No. 37                                                                       December 2014
  Safety Tips: Proper Fireplace Ash Disposal
In light of this week's house fire caused by fireplace ash, Portland Fire & Rescue would like to remind residents of the importance of proper disposal of ashes.

Each year, Portland Fire & Rescue responds to fires caused by improper disposal of hot coals or ashes from fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, grills or mobile fireplaces designed for use on decks or patios.


The fact is that coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to start a fire for many days after you think the fire is out (watch this video). The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning, how much unburned fuel remains, etc.


To be safe always, simply treat all ashes and coals as hot, even when you think they had time enough to cool.


To properly dispose of ashes or coals we recommend the following:

  • If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool for up to a week before removing them. Fireplaces and wood or pellet stoves are designed to contain their heat safely.
  • When it is time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a non-combustible, metal container and wet them down.
  • Keep the metal container outside your home and away from any combustibles until the refuse is hauled away.
  • DO NOT place any other combustibles in the metal container.
  • DO NOT use a combustible container.

More Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Have your chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it is clear of obstructions, creosote, or any cracks that could allow fire to spread to your home.
  • Repair any cracks in your chimney and fireplace.
  • Use fireplace screens to keep sparks and fire debris inside the fireplace.
  • Do not use an accelerant to start a fire.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of all combustibles (Three feet away is a good rule).
  • Keep all children and pets a safe distance from fireplaces.
  • Ensure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every sleeping area, on every floor. Test them regularly and replace every 10 years.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Observe all safety precautions when using outdoor fireplaces they can be just as dangerous as indoor units.


If you have little ones who want to have a chat with Santa, please visit us on Saturday, December 13th between 10 am and 2 pm at the Historic Belmont Firehouse (900 SE 35th at Belmont).


We will be offering fire safety education and the kids can have their picture taken with the big guy.


A $5 charitable donation to the Jeff Morris Foundation for Fire Safety Education is appreciated

Help Us Celebrate

100 Years of Toy & Joy Makers 


100 years ago, a little boy brought a broken wagon into a fire station and asked a Portland Firefighter to fix it so he could give it to his brother. A tradition was born.


Toy & Joy is Portland Fire & Rescue's affiliated non-profit that delivers toys to Portland children in need.


Help Us Continue This Tradition 


When you are out shopping for your own children, you can help by picking out an extra toy for Toy & Joy to pass on to kids in need. Or if you have toys that are in good condition, simply drop them off at any Portland Fire & Rescue Station during the month of December. Cash donations also welcome for the purchase toys at wholesale prices.


As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. Keep any sources of ignition away from your Christmas tree, which can be highly flammable. Even a small spark near your tree can quickly turn into a large fire very quickly (check out this video).


Picking the Tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the Tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  •  Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree

  •  Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  •  Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree
  •  Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas


Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.



(Source: NFPA)

PF&R in the News

Dec 3: Northeast Portland house fire on Monday night caused by poor disposal of fireplace ashes, fire officials say

About Us
Portland's fire service history began in the spring of 1851, with the founding of the Pioneer Engine Company, the same year the City of Portland was officially incorporated. No more than a bucket brigade, it was a volunteer force of 37 fire fighters wearing red shirts with a single hand pump.
Today, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) is the largest fire and emergency services provider in the State of Oregon with 725 employees and serves a population of 610,000. In 2013, PF&R responded to 70,386 emergency incidents.
Portland Fire & Rescue
55 SW Ash St
Portland, Oregon 97204
Follow us on the PF&R Newsfeed and Public Alerts.
If you have questions or suggestions, contact the E-News Editor.
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter 
Join Our Mailing List