Use Caution When Using Mulch
Recently, the Brighton Fire Department has responded to an increased number of mulch fires. Mulch is a combustible material that can be easily ignited by improperly discarded smoking materials. Hundreds of small and large fires are started this way every year. The risk is that what starts as a small outdoor mulch fire can quickly spread to buildings. A mulch fire can be well underway before someone notices or is alerted by smoke alarms or sprinkler systems activating.
Provide a minimum of an 18-inch clearance between landscape mulch beds and combustible building materials, such as wood, vinyl siding and decks.
Use non-combustible mulch such as rock or pea stone around gas meters and combustible portions of the structure.
Provide proper receptacles for smoking materials at all entrances to public buildings and in designated smoking areas. Place them at least 18" away from the building, do not mulch in these areas and remember to regularly empty smoking receptacles.
Keep mulch beds moist when possible.
In many mulch fires, the smoldering mulch tunnels under the surface and then breaks out into open flame.
Mulch that is piled too deeply, more than a few inches, can build up heat and spontaneously catch fire.
Mulch fires start more readily when the weather is hot and it has been dry for an extended time.
Factors such as below-average rainfall, dry conditions, warm temperatures, and high winds increase the risk of mulch fires.
Large piles of mulch can spontaneously combust from all the heat they generate, so it is important to be vigilant and employ good housekeeping. The distance between mulch piles keeps a fire from spreading from one pile to another, or to a building.