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Use common sense, good judgment to prevent fires

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Colorado Springs is located in a high desert plain which is typically very arid. The mild winter and low snow accumulation coupled with warmer than normal temperatures and high winds has elevated fire danger early this year. For these reasons it is essential smoking rules and policies are enforced and followed.

The base has already had a smoking-related fire this year at one of its critical facilities, and we can't allow a senseless fire caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials to affect the mission.

Although much attention focuses on the known health risks of smoking, cigarette use is also responsible for several fires each year on base. Most of these fires are in the mulch surrounding the buildings. The temperature of a cigarette while not being smoked is 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit in the center and 752 degrees Fahrenheit on the sides of the cigarette. This is easily hot enough to ignite mulch and other combustible materials. Peterson AFB is essentially a non-smoking base, with smoking only permitted in designated areas. Each facility is allowed only one smoking area designated by the commander of that facility in conjunction with the 21st Fire Emergency Services fire prevention office.

Here are a few guidelines from 21SWI 32-2001, Fire Emergency Services and AFOSH STD 91-501, Air Force Consolidated Occupational Safety Standard:

· Smoking is not allowed inside any Air Force building.
· Each facility may have a single outside designated smoking area and will provide approved smoking urns by each. Trash receptacles shall also be provided to preclude combining trash and discarded smoking materials.
· The disposal of smoking material in any container, other than approved containers (listed by UL, CSA or other recognized testing laboratory) specifically designed for smoking material, is strictly prohibited.
· The disposal of waste, trash or any combustible material into ashtrays or smoking material cans is prohibited.
· Provide ash receptacles or smoking material cans at the entrance to all no smoking areas.
· Saturate and completely extinguish smoking material prior to disposal into outside waste dumpsters.

During Stage I fire restrictions, El Paso County goes as far as to prohibit outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. Violation of this may result in fines up to $600. The current fire restriction for El Paso County can be found on the El Paso County Sheriff's office website.

As you can see, common sense and good judgment go a long way. Any questions regarding fire safety can be directed to the 21st FES fire prevention office at 556-6574 or 556-4242.

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