Whether you plan to burn a small trash pile or an entire field, it's imperative that you check the current weather conditions as well as the forecast. A simple shift in wind direction or an increase in wind speed can cause a fire to quickly grow out of control. Remember, you are responsible for any damages, injuries, and even deaths that occur as a result of the fire you started.
Please follow the five steps below before starting your fire:
LowFavorable weather conditions or a high moisture content of grasses and other dry organic material on the ground indicate that the probability of a fire occurrence is low. Outdoor burning under these conditions can usually be performed with reasonable safety precautions.
ModerateMarginal weather conditions or a lowering moisture content of grasses and other dry organic material on the ground indicate that there is some potential for a fire occurrence. Do not leave outdoor fires unattended under these conditions.
HighUnfavorable weather conditions or a low moisture content of grasses and other dry organic material on the ground indicate that there is a moderate to high potential for a fire occurrence. Outdoor burning should be restricted to early morning or evening hours when wind speeds usually lower and the relative humidity is higher.
Very HighVery poor weather conditions or a very low moisture content of grasses and other dry organic material on the ground indicate that dangerous burning conditions exist. Fires will spread rapidly and show erratic behavior. Outdoor burning is not recommended.
ExtremeExtreme weather conditions or a very low moisture content of grasses and other dry organic material on the ground indicate that critical burning conditions exist. A fire will start easily and has the potential to become large and spread quickly becoming erratic with extreme behavioral characteristics. No outdoor burning should take place.
Red Flag WarningA Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now....or will shortly. A combination of strong winds...low relative humidity...and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior. NO OPEN BURNING WHEN A RED FLAG WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED.
2. Check the Current Weather Conditions
3. Check the Weather Forecast
4. Have fire extinguishing materials close by
5. Notify the Communications Center of your fire
Tips for Conducting Open Burning
- Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire because the risk of personal injury is high.
- Burn one small pile at a time and slowly add to it. This will help keep the fire from getting out of control.
- Select a location away from any utility lines.
- While the fire is burning, an adult must attend the fire until it is completely extinguished.
- Have fire extinguishing materials on hand including a water supply, shovels and rakes. The water supply could be a pressurized water fire extinguisher, a pump can or garden hose, and be sure to test it out before igniting the fire. You do not want to find out that the water is still shut-off at the house faucet or that the hose is cracked when you need it most. For larger burns, have machinery close by such as disks or cultivators.
- Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up or weather changes. Use common sense and remember that sudden wind change is how most open burning gets out of control.
- If for some reason, the fire should get out of control, call 911 immediately. Use the utmost caution to prevent injury to yourself or family members or any damage by fire to your home.
- April is usually the worst month for brush fires. When the snow pack recedes, before new growth emerges, last year's dead grass, leaves and wood are dangerous tinder. Winds also tend to be stronger and more unpredictable in April.
- Open burning releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, other gases, and solid substances directly into the air, which can contribute to respiratory problems. Disposal of natural materials is never as good for the environment as using them again in a different form. Tree limbs, brush and other forestry debris can be chipped or composted into landscaping material.