ALBANY, GA (WALB) – One experiment Albany Firefighters conducted tested new fire safe cigarettes now mandated in Georgia. Those cigarettes are designed to go out if you stop smoking them.
Cigarettes cause fires that kill 700 people and injure 3,000 every year in the United States. 74 year old Audrey Baty died in an Albany house fire January 7th, and Investigators determined the fire was caused by a cigarette. That tragedy influenced firefighters to check out how safe these new cigarettes really are.
The fire safe cigarettes are made of the same kind of tobacco and paper, but it has rings in the paper to stop the flame if not puffed. But the fire safe standards require them to burn out 75% of the time.
Firefighters say dumping cigarette ashes and butts in trash cans is one of the most frequent causes of house fires. Firefighters set up a chair and couch in a condemned house, and placed a fire safe cigarette in the trash can with newspapers, and then other trash types.
The cigarette smoldered for a couple of minutes, and then..... "I see smoke. Yea, we got a fire already," said a firefighter.
Within five minutes the trash can was blazing in the trash can. And 12 minutes after putting the fire safe cigarette in the trash can, the fire had set both the chair and couch next to it ablaze. In two tries, each time the fire safe cigarette started a fire.
"It appears when it gets insulated on more than two sides, it continues to burn. We pulled the paper back and it was smoldering, burning inside the paper both times," Investigator Sam Harris said.
Firefighters say they concluded from their experiment that the fire safe cigarette is a better system, but not a fail proof system.
"Can't trust it. Anytime you have an open flame you have a risk of a fire. That's exactly what we found out," Harris said.
So Firefighters urge smokers to use extreme caution, and not get overly confident in fire safe cigarettes.
"Continue to be vigilant when they are smoking. To worry about putting them out good. And to not pour the ashes into trash cans, because it can cause a fire."
Firefighters hope their experiment findings and warnings can prevent more cigarette fire deaths.
Fire safe cigarettes are the law in Georgia now, but stores can still sell the old style cigarettes they had in stock until they are all gone. So some of those are still available. The way you can know if you have a fire safe cigarette, it's on the package marked "FSC" if they are fire safe.
Georgia was among the last states to require the fire safe cigarettes. The law mandating them went into effect January 1st. Most tobacco companies say they support the move to fire safe cigarettes.
Click HERE for more information on fire-safe cigarettes.