Smoking Material Fires in the NWT

Public Service Announcement

Yellowknife — July 14, 2021

Smoking is a leading cause of home fire fatalities. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Office of The Fire Marshal (OFM) are concerned about a recent trend related to smoking materials that has been occurring in the NWT.  Over the last month alone, structural fires in the communities of Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Yellowknife have resulted in significant property losses and injuries to NWT residents.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), through the OFM, is working with our partners at the Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC), Northwest Territories Fire Chief’s Association (NWTFCA) and Local Government Administrators of the Northwest Territories (LGANT), and other GNWT Departments to assist in spreading fire prevention messaging to all NWT residents.

In an effort to combat this trend, the GNWT is requesting all residents heed the following fire safety messages related to smoking materials and all community Fire Safety Officials to assist in educating their residents to the hazards of smoking materials. 

Fire Prevention Best Practices:

  • If you smoke, do so outside away from structures and other combustible material. Make sure to extinguish cigarettes in an approved container.
  • Never smoke in bed, while taking medication that makes you drowsy, or while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Never smoke where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
  • Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays (non-combustible). If ashtrays are not available use a metal can or pail. Never empty smoking material directly into a trash can. Place the ashtrays or metal cans away from anything that can burn. Use of a tight-fitting lid will limit oxygen supply.
  • Do not throw out cigarettes into vegetation, potted plants, landscaping, peat moss, dried grass, mulch, leaves or other similar items as they can easily catch fire.
  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, ensure they are completely extinguished. Put them out in sand or water.
  • Do not discard cigarettes or other flammable materials out vehicle windows especially in forested areas or where combustible materials may be present.
  • Before going to bed, check under furniture cushions and around places where people have been smoking for smouldering cigarette butts or hot ashes that may haven fallen out of sight.
  • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials up high out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.
  • Fires have occurred with vaping products, including where electronic cigarettes were being used, while batteries were being charged, or the device was being transported. Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home. These devices are proven to save lives and limit property loss.

For additional information on protecting yourself from fire, please visit the National Fire Protection Association’s Website at: or contact your local fire department or MACA Regional Office for assistance.

Safety is a priority for the GNWT. We all have a role to play in protecting our family, friends, pets, property and belongings from the threat of fire.

If you need help quitting smoking, make an appointment at your local health centre or contact for a free Quit Kit.


For media requests, please contact:

Jay Boast

Communications Planning Specialist

Municipal and Community Affairs

Government of the Northwest Territories

867-767-9162 ext. 21044