It’s easy to think that this could never happen to you. But whether you’ve been smoking for decades or you don’t smoke at all, the reality is that fires caused by improperly extinguished smoking materials are one of the leading fire causes in Edmonton. A fire cause that is 100% preventable. Cigarettes and other smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smoulder undetected for days before igniting a fire.

Facts about smoking-related fires in Edmonton:

  • More than 820 fires between 2012-2021. Last year (2021) saw the highest number of smoking-related fires at 141
  • 45 injuries between 2018-2021
  • 6 fatalities between 2018-2021
  • $45.8 million in estimated property loss between 2018-2021

Download the Stay Safe Sheet: Smoking Safety to learn how to safely dispose of smoking materials.

If you smoke, make sure you:

Discard smoking materials properly
  • Use a deep, non-combustible ashtray that cigarettes can fall into
  • Wet cigarette butts and matches before putting them in a garbage container to prevent them from smouldering and starting a fire
  • Never extinguish smoking materials in plant pots, potting soil, peat moss or other types of soil as they contain combustible materials
  • Never discard smoking materials on the ground, in the garbage or in dry, grassy areas. In addition to being a fire hazard, it is also considered littering and is subject to a $250 fine.
Protect children and pets
  • Keep smoking materials, including lighters and matches, out of reach of children
If you smoke, smoke outside
  • Provide smokers with large, deep, sturdy, non-combustible ashtrays
  • Wet cigarette butts and ashes before throwing them out or burying them in the sand
  • Refrain from smoking on balconies if it is restricted by the property owner
Use e-cigarettes with caution
  • Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended
  • Battery failures can lead to small explosions
Use medical oxygen safely
  • Never smoke in a home where a person is using oxygen as medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal
  • Keep oxygen cylinders at least 5 feet (1.5 metres) from a heat source, open flame or electrical appliance (i.e., space heater)
  • Do not use candles, matches or wood stoves in a home where medical oxygen is in use
  • Keep body oil, hand lotion and items containing oil or grease away when oxygen is in use
  • Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near oxygen
Prevent burns and injuries
  • Do not light a cigarette while wearing a nasal cannula
  • Do not smoke inside a home where oxygen cylinders are present

Multi-family Buildings

Fires in multi-family buildings often originate on balconies due to the improper disposal of smoking materials in planter pots or other inappropriate receptacles. These fires are able to spread quickly and undetected between units due to wind and the lack of sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems on balconies.

Given their size and fuel load, fires in multi-family buildings pose a significant threat to the air quality and environment of our city. They often result in significant and devastating damage, and are a hazard to the entire building as well as neighbouring properties.

Property Owners or Agents
It is the property owner or agent's responsibility to maintain their properties according to the National Fire Code - 2019 Alberta Edition. Edmonton Fire Rescue Services asks property owners and agents to voluntarily determine if each balcony of their building(s) will be considered a smoking or non-smoking area.

  • On balconies deemed smoking areas, owners and agents are encouraged to provide an ashtray that is weather resistant, enclosed and designed for smoking materials
  • On balconies deemed non-smoking areas, owners and agents are encouraged to install a "No Smoking" sign or decal where it can be seen in plain sight

Additional Resources


Garden Centre Partnerships

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services has partnered with locally owned and operated garden centres into the summer months to encourage the proper disposal of smoking materials.

Edmontonians visiting the following locations will discover signage that indicates cigarettes and potting soil just don't go together. Fire Prevention Officers may also be in attendance to discuss smoking and fire safety information with customers:

Kuhlmann's Greenhouse Garden Market: Located at 1320 167 Avenue NW

Mill Creek Nursery: Located at 3103 17 Street NW

The Root Seller: Located at 16735 Zaychuk Road NW

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered an appropriate "No Smoking" sign/decal for a balcony deemed to be a non-smoking area?

The "No Smoking" sign/decal should be weather resistant and must be visible in plain sight. These "No Smoking" signs/decals can be in the form of stickers, signs or any other marker that clearly defines the balcony as a non-smoking area. The signs/decals will serve as a reminder to residents and guests that smoking is not permitted. Although there is no size requirement, the "No Smoking" sign/decal should always be clearly visible.

What kind of ashtray/smoking material receptacle is appropriate?

Although a standard ashtray is acceptable, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services recommends a smoking material receptacle that is:

  • designed for the exterior of a building
  • enclosed
  • built of non-combustible material
  • free-standing or wall mounted
What is considered to be an appropriate number of ashtrays/smoking material receptacles?

Based on the size of balconies of multi-family buildings, one ashtray/smoking material receptacle is considered to be acceptable. Just make sure it is safely emptied on a regular basis.

Who is responsible for purchasing the appropriate ashtrays/smoking material receptacles and signs/decals?

It is the property owner or agent's responsibility to maintain their properties according to the National Fire Code - 2019 Alberta Edition. As such, this voluntary program will remain the owner and agent's responsibility; they will purchase the ashtrays/smoking material receptacles and signs/decals for their building(s).

Is it possible for some units to have ashtrays/smoking material receptacles and some to have "No Smoking" signs/decals?

Yes, it is up to the property owner or agent to deem each balcony of the building as either a smoking area or a non-smoking area. As such, if the owner or agent agrees to participate in this program, each individual unit will be provided either a "No Smoking" sign/decal or an ashtray/smoking material receptacle.

How do I maintain my ashtray/smoking material receptacle?

It is the resident's responsibility to maintain their ashtray/smoking material receptacle. Depending on the regularity of smoking, empty your ashtray/smoking material receptacle before it is full. Ensure that you soak all smoking material in water before it is disposed of, in order to prevent smouldering. After emptying your ashtray/smoking material receptacle, wipe the inside clean to ensure all smoking material has been removed. Report any damaged ashtrays/smoking material receptacles or "No Smoking" signs/decals to your property owner or agent immediately.

What if I see someone breaking this rule?

It is the building owner or agent's responsibility to manage this activity. If you are aware of smoking occurring in a non-smoking area or if you see smoking materials being disposed of improperly, you are strongly encouraged to notify the building manager to intercede.