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Dispose of hot ashes safely this winter


Winter months are a timely reminder for residents to ensure they’re disposing of any hot ashes from wood fires safely and responsibly, and not into their general waste or recycling bins.

Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Spokesperson for Waste Services Councillor Peter Flannery said while no incidents had been reported this winter, with the cooler weather setting in it was a timely reminder for local residents to ensure they’re disposing of hot ashes responsibly for both their safety and the safety of their community.

“What many people don’t realise is hot ashes have the ability to lay dormant for days and can re-ignite when mixed with other items in your general waste or recycling bins, causing major safety risks,” Cr Flannery said.

“With more residents lighting their wood fires or fire pits this time of year to escape the chilly weather, we’re reminding residents to please take care and dispose of your hot ashes responsibly and safely.

“After safely removing the ashes, dousing them with water, and allowing them to cool in a secure metal container, we encourage residents to safely transport ashes to their nearest waste facility as required or even consider placing cooled, moist ashes into your compost bin.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) North Brisbane Zone Superintendent Lance Duncan said the risk wasn’t only confined to the bin.

“Incorrect use and disposal of coals and ashes may create a potential fire risk to your family or cause you serious harm,” Mr Duncan said.

“A lot of people don’t realise that coals and ashes can retain their heat for 24 hours when they are covered with dirt or sand.

“Dousing these materials with water should be the only method people use to remove the heat and extinguish any remaining embers.

“Coals should never be emptied onto or close to a structure such as a fence or shed or near vegetation that could catch alight and spread easily to your home.”

Some tips for disposing of hot ashes safely:

  • Place ash in a metal container, using a metal shovel or another appropriate tool. Never use flammable materials for ash disposal, such as plastic bags, paper, or cardboard boxes.

  • Place the metal bucket outside, and pour water into it to douse any hot embers. Keep in mind that hot coal or wood can smoulder for days.

  • After adding water, stir the ashes, so that all of the bucket's contents are wet.

  • Place the ash bucket away from flammable materials, and tightly secure the lid. Do not put the metal container on a wooden floor or any other type of flammable surface.

  • If you vacuum remaining ashes out of your wood stove, only use a vacuum that is especially designed for the purpose of removing hot and cold embers.

  • Safely transport the secured metal container to your nearest waste facility as required; OR

  • Place cooled, moist wood ashes in your compost bin to improve the compost for your gardens.

Cr Flannery said hot ashes joined a number of unsafe items that should not be placed into wheelie bins including batteries, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, construction and demolition waste, large electrical appliances and gas bottles.

“For more information on what can go into your household general waste and recycling bins visit council’s website or call council on 3205 0555,” Cr Flannery said.

Residents in the Moreton Bay Region are eligible for free disposal of domestic waste at council’s waste management facilities. For more information on council’s waste management facilities and accepted waste visit council’s website

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