Fire Department Recommendations on Mulch

Fire Department Recommendations Relating to Mulch Use
Posted on 05/27/2020
The Charlottetown Fire Department is offering some recommendations to property owners regarding the use of mulch.

Mulch is often used in decorative, outdoor flower beds or around trees and shrubs, but in the right conditions, some mulch can catch fire.

Over the past five years, the Charlottetown Fire Department has responded to an average of 12 fires that have started in or around combustible mulch, which is mulch that is typically made from wood chips. An ignition source, such as smoking material discarded in mulch, can smolder for extended periods, and fully ignite when the conditions are right, such as in dry, hot weather.

The Department recommends combustible mulch be kept at least 18 inches (approx. 45 centimetres) away from all buildings and combustible portions of buildings, such as decks and gazebos. As an alternative, property owners could use non-combustible mulch such as crushed rock, brick, or pea gravel.

If using combustible mulch, the layers should be no more than three inches (approx. 7 centimetres) thick. Larger piles of mulch should not be exposed to the sun, if possible.

Other recommendations that can help prevent mulch fires, include:

• Keep combustible mulch moist when used near or around a building or structure, if possible;
• Ensure that all smoking material is always disposed of properly;
• Never discard any smoking material in or around combustible mulch at home or at any commercial facility, including drive-thrus;
• At commercial buildings, where smoking is permissible by Provincial regulations, ensure there are proper receptacles in place to prevent smoking materials from being discarded in combustible mulch or elsewhere.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding combustible mulch use, or concerns/comments on any other fire prevention issue, can contact the Charlottetown Fire Department at 902 629-4083.