Health & Safety

January 13, 2017

Smoking-related fires are 100 percent preventable

Timothy Johnson
Edwards AFB, Calif.

For many years now, cigarette smoking has been prohibited in Air Force buildings.

Although using organizations have a responsibility of providing an adequate number of ashtrays or ash receptacles for every authorized smoking area, proper disposal of smoking material must start with the smoker, ensuring that a cigarette is put out, all the way, every time.

Smoking material may only be disposed of in approved containers specifically designed for smoking material.  Waste, trash or any other combustible materials is never permitted to be placed in ashtrays or other approved receptacles.  Facility managers must ensure designated tobacco use areas are inspected frequently to ensure containers for disposal of smoking material are emptied frequently, ensuring the contents are completely saturated with water prior to disposal in outside waste dumpsters. Flammable materials should not be allowed to accumulate in the area. Man-made rubbish and natural sources like excess vegetation, fallen leaves and pine needles should be cleared from the area regularly.

Never throw smoking materials out of a car window. Always use your car’s ashtray and make sure that all cigarette butts are completely out before throwing them into the trash. As a reminder, all discarded material thrown from a vehicle is considered littering — even cigarette butts.

In the event a smoking-related fire begins it is important to remember the following steps:
* Remain calm
* Call the fire department via 911, or 661-277-4540 from a cell phone
* Answer all the emergency operator’s questions
* Proceed to a safe area away from the fire, ensuring others stay away
* Give pertinent information to first arriving firefighters
* Inform your supervisor of your well-being as well as accounting for your co-workers.

Only attempt to extinguish the fire yourself after all other steps are performed and you have been properly trained in the use of portable fire extinguishing equipment.  Fires that have already spread away from where they originally began cannot be extinguished with hand-held extinguishers; you must ensure professional firefighters are called in! 

Smoking-related fires are 100 percent preventable when the proper steps are taken to safely maintain tobacco use areas and completely extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials correctly.

As always, if people are looking for help quitting smoking, tobacco cessation classes are available at 412th Aerospace Medicine Health Promotions. Eugene McClelland is the manager and can be reached at 661-277-9427.

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