The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has been recently contacted by a number of fire departments regarding potting soil fire incidents. In July, one fire department reported five fires that occurred in flower pots and planters containing potting soil.
Often these types of fires are of a smouldering nature and occur when smokers extinguish cigarettes outside in plant pots, which often contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite. There is risk of these fires melting pots and igniting other nearby combustible materials.
Many people mistakenly assume potting soil will extinguish their discarded butts. The following safety tips to prevent these types of fires from occurring should be adhered to:
- Do not use planters or flowerpots as ashtrays.
- In areas where people may be smoking provide proper ashtrays or non-combustible containers filled with sand.
- Keep plants well watered to prevent the potting soil from drying out.
- Remove and dispose of dead plants promptly.
- Where possible, use non-combustible planters and flowerpots.
- Do not locate flowerpots close to other combustible materials.
Commercially prepared potting soil may contain little or no actual soil. It is frequently a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark and non-organic material such as vermiculite or perlite. Some potting soil has fertilizer
added that can act as an oxidizing agent making the fire more intense.
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