skip to main content

Only You Can Prevent Garbage Truck Fires


Tri-County Industries would like to remind all customers to be mindful of the items they are putting in their garbage and recycling containers and the hazards that can occur when flammable materials are improperly disposed of. 

It may seem harmless to throw items into your garbage such as empty propane tanks and pool chemicals, but if you don’t properly dispose of items like these, you increase the risk of starting a fire in your garbage container and in the trucks that collect your garbage. These fires can become deadly and cause serious injuries to waste collection employees. They can also be detrimental to the environment and wildlife.

As we make plans to celebrate the holiday, it’s important to practice fire safety. Stay in the know about flammable materials and learn how to properly discard them to keep our family, friends, and employees safe.

yellow fire hazard sign

Common Flammable Households Items 

It only takes a spark to start a fire. The following items have the potential to combust or even explode if they are carelessly thrown in your garbage or recycling container. 

Pool Chemicals

Pool chemicals are used to disinfect and balance pools. While chemicals like chlorine are great for keeping our pools clean, they can ignite and start a fire when they are mixed with incompatible chemicals. Pool chemicals can also release toxic vapors. They should never be disposed of in your garbage or recycling container. Store your leftover pool chemicals in a cool, dry space away from other cleaners and household chemicals and save them for next summer. 

Pressurized Containers and Camping Fuels

Even if your propane, oxygen, or camping gas tank seems empty, it still has the potential to start a fire. The smallest amount of gas is highly flammable and can quickly ignite if it comes in contact with other combustible materials inside a garbage truck. Pressurized containers can even explode and cause serious injury if they become too hot. If you have an old propane tank that you’d like to get rid of, contact some local businesses that sell propane tanks and ask if they recycle used tanks. 

Hot Ashes

Did you know that ashes can remain hot enough to start a fire even after many days? To be safe, treat all ashes as if they were still hot. Wait several days after the fire has been put out and transfer your ashes to a metal container and pour water on them. Once the ashes are completely cool and dry, pour them into a plastic bag and tie it shut. Set the bag out for collection separate from your other garbage. Ashes should never be placed in your recycling or garbage container. 

Used Batteries

Batteries contain corrosive materials and can combust if they are punctured and leak. There are several types of batteries and the proper method to dispose of each of them is different. Learn more about how to safely dispose of used batteries. 

Auto Fluids

Many fluids we use to maintain our cars are toxic and should be handled with care. Never dump fluids down your drain or in your yard, they can contaminate the soil and harm wildlife. Auto fluids also should never be thrown into your garbage since many of them are flammable. Contact local auto shops in your area and ask if they will accept used motor oil and other fluids like antifreeze and transmission fluid.

Bottom Line

Being mindful of what we put in our garbage and recycling will help keep our environment, community, and waste collection employees safe. However, knowing how to properly dispose of different flammable materials can be confusing. Visit the Department of Environmental Protection to learn more about Household Hazardous Waste items.

Customers are also encouraged to read our residential recycling guidelines so we can recycle and repurpose as many permitted materials as possible.