Hot coals and other flammable materials can cause fires in a Waste Management truck, putting the community at risk. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

Hot coals and other flammable materials can cause fires in a Waste Management truck, putting the community at risk. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

Got your grill on?

Hot coals – great for burgers, bad for garbage.

  • Monday, August 19, 2019 10:09am
  • Opinion

By Hannah Scholes

Special to the Reporter

Summer has finally arrived in Redmond. The sun is shining, gardens are thriving, and the neighborhood pool is overflowing with children and their gleeful screams.

Now add the smell of sizzling veggies and burgers wafting through the air. Yes, it’s time to get your grill on!

It’s also time make sure your summer meal plan includes cooling and wetting down coals after the barbecue.

If you don’t, hot coals could start a fire — in your garbage container, in the Waste Management truck that collects your garbage or even down the road at the transfer station or landfill.

Hot coals can lead to a fire that can melt a garbage container. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

Hot coals can lead to a fire that can melt a garbage container. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

While coals and ashes appear cool, they can stay hot for days after cooking is over. And when they are disposed of while still hot, coals can create fire risk for your family, neighbors and local Waste Management drivers.

And it happens often. Throughout the summer, Waste Management drivers have to make emergency stops to empty their trucks and call the fire department to fight fires caused by hot coals put in containers.

In fact, a fire broke out in the back of a Waste Management truck in a commercial area in the Puget Sound region in July. Someone had tossed flammable materials into a garbage dumpster. The driver did exactly as he was trained: he pulled over, dumped his load, and worked with firefighters to put out the fire. As a result, no one was injured and there was no damage to local businesses.

Even so, flammable materials in the garbage created a safety risk for the community — a danger that could have been avoided.

Waste Management drivers even come across containers that have melted to the ground because of carelessly handled ashes or coals, and local firefighters frequently respond to fires in both garbage and recycling containers.

Even after they are cool, putting coals or ashes in your recycling or yard debris container results in the whole container going to the landfill because everything is contaminated.

So, as you embrace all that is fun and delicious about summer, Waste Management urges you to add safety to your backyard barbecue plans, to protect yourself and our community.

Safety tips for coals and ashes

Let coals and ashes cool for several days in the grill or fireplace before handling.

After they are cool, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Keep the container outside and away from combustibles.

Do not use galvanized containers, as hot coals will release noxious fumes when in contact with galvanized metal.

Do not place other combustibles in the container.

Once coals and ashes are completely cool, bag them and put them in your garbage container or bring them to a transfer station or landfill. Better yet, spread them around the garden or add to your compost bin.

Never put coals or ashes in recycling or yard debris containers!

Here’s to a summer of safe (and delicious) grilling.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. To see what’s recyclable in Redmond go to WMNorthwest.com/Redmond.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Time to predict November’s election winners | Roegner

A look at statewide offices in Washington.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Let’s clear the air on wildfires, climate change

Agreement and commitment is needed to address the causes of wildfires and climate change.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Republican’s write-in campaign highlights post-primary intrigue | Roegner

Can former Bothell mayor beat two Democrats for lieutenant governor post?

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
What does it mean to violate the Hatch Act? | Roegner

The federal law was established in 1939.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Editorial: State lawmakers shouldn’t wait to start budget work

Making tough choices on cuts and revenue can’t wait until next year and hopes for better news.

Rico Thomas, left, has been a clerk in the Fuel Center/Mini Mart at Safeway in Federal Way for the past 5 years. Kyong Barry, right, has been with Albertsons for 18 years and is a front end supervisor in Auburn. Both are active members of UFCW 21. Courtesy photos
Grocery store workers deserve respect and hazard pay | Guest column

As grocery store workers in King County, we experience the hard, cold… Continue reading

Face masks save lives and jobs across Washington
Face masks save lives and jobs across Washington

Wearing a mask saves lives and saves jobs. And all across the… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Reopen schools in fall, but do it safely

Don’t bully schools into reopening. Protect our students.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Doreen Davis, left in mask, waves at parade participants on May 2. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Wear your face-hugging, ever-loving mask | Editorial

“Don’t make me come down there.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,… Continue reading

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial
Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

Earth Month 2020 and COVID-19: Caring for the planet and each other
Earth Month 2020 and COVID-19: Caring for the planet and each other

Here are some ways to minimize your carbon footprint and protect the planet amid the pandemic.