Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands of renters across the state will soon be getting new trashcans — with new regulations taking effect next month for valet trash services and new building codes aimed at reducing fire hazards.
This comes after a deadly fire at the Aurella Cary Apartments in March, which was caused when cardboard and trash caught fire in the breezway. Baby Marlee Santiago, just 9 months old, died in that fire.
Overflowing trashcans with no lids create a fire hazard.
Some apartment complexes have already started giving out new trashcans to comply with the new rules. These are fire-proof cans with a self-closing mechanism – and the goal is make the entrance and exits to these apartments safer.
Durham County Fire Marshal Jason Shepherd supports new regulations, requiring valet trash services — like Trash Butler and Valet Living — to supply residents with fire proof trashcans.
“When you put combustible material in the means of egress, there is an opportunity to set it on fire or for it to catch on fire and then you have an incident that happens,” he said. He also says loose boxes and bulk items make the area unsafe – an area that is used by many as the only exit in case of an emergency.
Marymegan Santiago and Xian Santiago, parents still grieving the loss of baby Marlee, support the new regulations that require a self-closing lid and only allow trash outside 5 hours before pick-up.
These new regulations are three years in the making.
The state’s Building Code Council received objections from valet trash companies, that cited the high cost of the trashcans and the struggle to get them.
“There’s one company right now in the United States that makes the cans, and it’s extremely expensive for us,” said Matt Gladden CEO of Community Concierge.
Right now, apartment complexes are not required to install sprinkler systems in the breezeway area. That is something the Building Code Council hopes to change by 2024.