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Media Release

Cigarette butts lead the pack of preventable fire causes
Thursday 14 March 2013 – 9:00 AM

The careless disposal of cigarettes have started more preventable grass, scrub and rubbish fires this summer than any other cause. 
Since 1 December last year, at least 320 grass, scrub and rubbish fires were the result of discarded butts, prompting the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) to urge smokers to properly dispose of cigarettes.
DFES Fire Investigation and Analysis Unit Manager Gary Baxter said people were threatening community safety by failing to give a second thought to the bushfire risk cigarettes pose.
“Cigarettes are on fire so when you toss it away into the bush or mulch while taking a walk or sitting in your car at traffic lights you are effectively holding a match to bush,” Mr Baxter said.
“No matter what time of the year or weather conditions always put your cigarette out properly and make sure it is extinguished.
“While it may be the last thing on your mind, small careless actions like flicking your butt can cause major bushfires. Don’t be the one to get a guilty conscience.”
While cigarette butts are the leading cause of preventable grass, scrub and rubbish fires, latest statistics show other causes this summer include sparks from hot works tools (14), embers from barbecues (12), and fireworks or sparklers (7).
Mr Baxter said people needed to use their common sense when handling any item or appliance that could start a fire.
“If you are using a barbecue, wood fired pizza oven or hot works tools make sure you have cleared a perimeter and always have a fire extinguisher nearby,” Mr Baxter said.
“Children need to be properly supervised when they are using sparklers, and fireworks are actually illegal and can be extremely volatile and dangerous.
“Fires are unpredictable and given the right conditions can spread very fast.
“If it’s a very hot and dry day then you need to think twice before using hot works tools or appliances such as lawn mowers, and if there is a Total Fire Ban in place it might even be banned.”
Careless disposal of cigarette butts could now attract a fine of up to $500 for an individual.
If you see someone carelessly dispose of a cigarette you can report the offence to Keep Australia Beautiful WA.
For more information on reporting cigarette litter visit the Keep Australia Beautiful WA website www.kabc.wa.gov.au.
For bushfire safety and Total Fire Ban information visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au
Media Contact: Media and Public Affairs on 9225 5955.


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