Landscape Mulch Fire Hazard 1

Landscape mulch fire

We at want to raise awareness of a potential fire hazard pertaining to landscape mulch.  Each year during the spring and summer months, hundreds of mulch fires are reported across the nation. These fires start out small and undetected, but can eventually grow into a devastating fire, causing major damage to buildings, homes, and other structures. Dry weather conditions have lead to an increased threat for mulch fires.

Typically, mulch that is piled too deeply, more than a few inches, can build up heat and spontaneously catch fire. Another problem is decorative lighting. If lights are installed too close, or inside mulch, they can heat it up and cause a fire.. As the fire starts in the landscaping mulch, it can release a tremendous amount of radiant heat igniting nearby combustible parts of a building. It can also quickly spread into the shrubbery and then into the home or building.

Other contributing factors include below average rainfall, extremely dry conditions, warm weather, and abnormal winds. The most common cause of a mulch fire is human carelessness through discarding of smoking products. Cigarette and cigar smokers, often discard lighted smoking materials, including matches, into the landscaped areas as they enter and/or exit a building. Often smokers are forced/encouraged to smoke outdoors due to laws pertaining to smoking in public buildings/areas and the awareness of health issues pertaining to second hand smoke.  So, please take extra precaution when smoking outdoors around landscaping beds.

To help prevent a mulch fire, please follow these safety tips:

  • Utilize decorative gravel/stone in-lieu of wood/rubber mulch in landscape beds close to home/building, or in the vicinity of a designated smoking area.
  • Designate smoking areas away from the entrance/exit area of a building.
  • Increase awareness of the landscape mulch fire hazard by posting signs and distributing reading literature encouraging the use of smoking materials responsibly.
  • Have fire extinguisher(s) accessible at designated smoking areas.
  • Use only approved receptacles for matches, cigarettes and cigars.
  • Recognize that hot and dry spells allow mulch fires to start more readily.
  • Report any smoke or fire in a mulch bed via 9-1-1.
  • Maintain at least 18 inches of clearance between the edge of the mulch bed and combustible building materials, such as exterior vinyl siding and decks.
  • Keep mulch beds as moist as possible.

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