Toronto Fire Services recently held a press conference about the increasing number of fires on condo balconies caused by cigarettes being carelessly tossed from balconies. At the time of the press conference, there had been 27 balcony fires causing over $300,000 in property damage, in comparison to a total of 25 balcony fires in all of 2016. Lit cigarette butts are landing on combustible materials, such as patio furniture and potted plants, on balconies below. Some residents are also causing fires on their own balconies by butting out cigarettes in potted plants, erroneously thinking that they can be extinguished in the soil. However, most patio plants are not planted in soil, but rather in soil-less mixes that look like soil, but contain a variety of combustible materials. Fortunately to date, these fires have not resulted in any serious personal injuries or fatalities.
Condominium corporations should have rules in place that prohibit anyone from throwing anything, including cigarette butts, from balconies and prohibiting the extinguishing of cigarettes in potted plants. Management should also be posting/sending notices to residents so that they are aware of the dangers of improper disposal of cigarette butts. Residents should be vigilant and report to management if they see anyone tossing cigarette butts from the balcony, as it is often difficult for management to pinpoint the culprits.
Hopefully, the recent tragic high-rise fire in London will make residents more aware of the dangers of fire in a high-rise building and the devastating consequences that could result from the careless disposal of cigarette butts.