With grilling season in full swing, Montgomery County’s Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS/Dept. of Environmental Protection) and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service are issuing reminders and tips about the importance of safely disposing of the ash generated when using outdoor grills.
Residents are reminded to never put out ashes from outdoor barbecues (and fireplaces) for collection with their regular household trash unless they have been thoroughly soaked with water or held for at least a week to ensure there are no residual embers.
Cooled ashes may be brought to the Solid Waste Transfer Station, for disposal in specifically-designated ash containers. The Transfer Station is located at 16101 Frederick Rd., Derwood (off Rt. 355 at Shady Grove Rd.).
If delivering ash by car, residents are asked to use the Frederick Rd. (Rt. 355) entrance just south of Shady Grove Rd. The Transfer Station's Public Unloading Facility (PUF) -- also called the "Car Ramp" -- has several steel drums marked specifically for ash disposal. The drums are located between trash drop-off bays. DSWS staff verifies that the ash has cooled off before taking it to the rubble drop-off area for disposal.
If delivering ash by truck, residents should use the Shady Grove Rd. entrance and speak to the scale house staff for further instructions.
“Many residents are enjoying the summer weather, spending more time outdoors, and having barbecues. It’s extremely important that they allow the ashes from their grills – as well as any fireplaces or fire pits – to cool down completely before they properly dispose of them,” said Dan Locke, chief of the Division of Solid Waste Services.
“Hot ashes that are not properly cooled and disposed are significant fire hazards, capable of starting fires while mixed in loads of waste in refuse collection trucks, on rail cars on their way to waste disposal facilities, or while waste is actually being processed at the County’s Transfer Station or Resource Recovery Facility,” Locke said.
“The risk of fire becomes even greater due to the hot, dry weather conditions during the summertime.”
Fire Chief Richard Bowers added, “Improper disposal of ashes or hot coals from fireplaces, grills or mobile fireplaces designed for decks or patios has become a common cause of many recent fires.
“Embers often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to rekindle a fire for several days,” he explained. “We want residents to enjoy their fireplaces and grills but to always dispose of the ashes wisely.”
Fire Department officials remind residents to:
• Allow ashes and coals to cool in place for several days, if possible.
• When it’s time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Only use an approved metal ash bucket that has a tight fitting metal lid.
• Store the container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials.
• Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
• Never dump ashes into a plastic container, cardboard box, bag, or anything or in any place where combustible fluids of fumes are present.
• Don't dump ashes outside on a windy day. The wind can whip up what may have seemed like cool embers, making them fiery hot and sending them traveling to ignite nearby combustibles.
• And lastly, always have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly.