Rules to Making Informed Decisions for Fire Recovery (PDF)

Cleaning Ash From Property and Pools
07/07/2018 12:20 PM PDT

The County Department of Environmental Health has the following advice for cleaning up property and swimming pools impacted by smoke and ash contamination or fire damage:

Remember the three C’s: control, contain and capture.

Control: Try to control the amount of ash particles that get re-suspended into the air. Avoid using any equipment that blows ash into the air such as shop vacuums or leaf blowers. Instead, use vacuums with HEPA filters.

Contain: Contain ash by gently sweeping indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping with a damp cloth. Ash may be disposed of in regular trash receptacles or in plastic bags. You may also allow water from cleaning to drain into landscaping as ash will not hurt plants or grass.

Capture: Protect storm drains from ash and any cleaning chemicals used while cleaning by diverting away from storm drains or recapturing. Ash is highly acidic, which is harmful for people, the environment and aquatic life.

Swimming Pools

Do not allow use of the pool until the following steps have been completed.

Clean the skimmer baskets of debris and skim water surface of the pool with a pool net to remove floating debris.
Brush the sides and the bottom of pool to loosen contaminants. Vacuum pool.
Backwash and clean the filter(s). Ensure you discharge waste and wastewater into a municipal sanitary sewer only. If you are connected to a septic tank system, discharge the backwash to a pervious surface (gravel, lawn, open space) to allow for infiltration without erosion. Backwashing into the storm drain system (alleys, driveways, streets, storm drains) and creeks is prohibited by law.
Check the filter pressure and/or flow meter of the recirculation system to ensure it is working properly.
Check pH and adjust to between 7.2 and 7.8.
Check sanitizer level and adjust as follows:
Pools – Free chlorine minimum between 1.0 ppm unstabilized or 2.0 ppm stabilized with a maximum of 10 ppm. Bromine minimum of 2.0 ppm with a maximum of 10 ppm.
Spas, wading pools, and spray grounds – Free chlorine minimum of 3.0 ppm with a maximum of 10 ppm. Bromine minimum of 4.0 ppm with a maximum of 10 ppm.
Reopen pool to bathers only when sanitizer and pH levels meet standards listed above.
If there is a large amount of smoke and ash in the air, these steps may need to be repeated after cleaning the filters.
Alternatively, a swimming pool service company may be contracted to clean the pool. Check for their business license and experience in servicing pools. Repair work can only be done by properly licensed pool contractors. Pool service operators likewise are prohibited from discharging backwash to the storm drain system

Deck Cleaning: Clean the pool deck and dispose of the debris with the rest of the solid waste. Don’t hose down the deck to storm drains. You may spray lightly first to minimize dust and ashes from becoming airborne, then use a stiff brush or broom to sweep up and discard into the trash. A mop and bucket could also be used for clean-up.

Draining Pools: Draining of pools is not recommended. If you must drain the pool, contact the stormwater program of your local jurisdiction for guidance. In general, pool water must be de-chlorinated to 0.0 ppm chlorine and have a pH between 7.2 and 7.8 and no sediment or debris should enter the storm drain system.

Damaged Pool, Enclosure or Recirculation System: Pools that have had damage to the recirculation system, the pool enclosure or the pool shell must contact the Plan Check Unit of the Department of Environmental Health at (858) 505-6660 for evaluation.

For the latest emergency updates in English and Spanish, visit, and download the SD Emergency app. If you are affected by the fire and need to talk to someone by phone about evacuations, shelters, road closures and other non-emergency disaster-related services, call 2-1-1. If you are hearing impaired, dial 711 and ask to be connected to (858) 300-1211.