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Smoke Alerts

Smoke Alert Program

The smoke generated from a structure fire contains various toxic gases and harmful substances, depending on the burned materials. Assume that ALL smoke is dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. Smoke Alerts serve as a tool to warn those nearby that a significant fire is producing hazardous smoke, prompting appropriate actions.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does a smoke alert mean?

A smoke alert signifies a hazard in your area that requires attention. Here is a sample smoke alert message: "This message is from the Tacoma Fire Department: Please be advised. Smoke may be present in your area due to a large fire currently burning at [location]. We recommend staying indoors, closing your windows, and avoiding the smoke if possible, especially for those that have respiratory sensitivities. If you are experiencing prolonged smoky conditions that are affecting your breathing, you should relocated to a public space or the home of a family member or friend where the smoke is not a problem. If you are unable to relocate to a smoke free area, please call 9-1-1 for assistance."

Should I stay inside or leave the area?

The decision depends on how close you are to the fire and the amount of smoke in your indoor space. Tips from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Washington State Department of Health, such as turning off your furnace/air intake systems, establishing a clean room, creating a DIY air filter, or relocating to a smoke-free environment, can help mitigate the effects of light smoke. If smoke conditions are dangerous and you need assistance relocating, call 911.


The Tacoma Fire Department (TFD) utilizes air monitoring equipment to assess toxic chemical levels during a fire incident. An evacuation order may be issued if detected toxins reach severe levels. When preparing to evacuate, consider the Five Ps of Evacuation for wildfires and significant fire events: (ready.gov)

  • People: Ensure the safety of individuals, pets, and other animals if possible.
  • Prescriptions: Gather medications, dosages, medical equipment, batteries, power cords, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.
  • Papers: Secure important documents in hard or electronic copies on external hard drives or thumb drives.
  • Personal needs: Pack clothes, food, water, a first aid kit, cash, phones, chargers, and items for individuals with disabilities or special needs.
  • Priceless items: Include pictures, irreplaceable mementos, and valuables.
Stay Informed


Subscribe to Tacoma Alert notification services and follow social media updates from the Tacoma Fire Department or the City of Tacoma. Following these guidelines can enhance your safety and preparedness during a smoke alert.