There’s Smoke Coming From My Dumpster, What Do I Do?

Your project has been running smoothly. The trash has been taken out, the remodel or tear-down has proceeded without injuries or delays. All in all, it’s been a great project.

But what’s that? Someone is shouting from the street. There is smoke coming from your dumpster.

What could it be? And more importantly, what should you do next?

Call 9-1-1

You are an independent person. You take pride in doing things on your own, and solving problems. Well, the next step might run contrary to your experience.

You should first call 9-1-1. Get professional help and overwhelming force on your side as quickly as possible.

When you call, be sure to let the call taker know that exactly is inside the dumpster. Is it wood lathing? Is it painted panelboard? Is it waste from waterproofing that includes flammable chemicals? And are you sure it is only what you put inside, or did an unwelcome visitor dump something more inside one night when no one was looking?

Also, be sure to let them know if a fire in the dumpster could potentially threaten a structure nearby. Is the dumpster against a garage? It is in an easement between two houses?

All of this uncertainty is a reason to call for professional help. You don’t know whether the smoke is a smoldering mattress or if it is about to turn into a large chemical fire with thick dark smoke visible a mile away threatening property and lives.

Secure the scene

Next, use your resources to make sure that no one or nothing gets too close to the smoking dumpster. This could be as easy as standing by to encourage dog-walkers to cross the street, or it could involve moving a car or truck a little further away.

Be safe though. Fire response times in many places are pretty quick, so there is no need to risk life and limb to make a site a little more safe.

Think about the possible and probable outcomes, and take a few simple, safe steps to make sure that your plume of smoke doesn’t become something bigger, more dangerous, or more expensive. Keep your project on schedule and your clients, staff, or family safe.