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Wildland fires can be catastrophic for forests but also for homeowners and their property.  Fires are often caused by natural factors, but by far, the largest cause of wildfires is man-related.  Learning about wildfire prevention and what you can do to help will reduce the number of fires.  Preventing forest fires is everyone’s responsibility!  The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission's Prevention and Education Working Team (PEWT) offers several ways to take part.  See the Prevention section for more information.


Fire danger and the
prevention of human-caused forest fires

This year, Québec’s wildfire protection agency “SOPFEU” adopted a five level fire danger rating by adding the “very high” class. This change is a great opportunity to talk more about fire danger and to explain how people can prevent human-caused forest fires. 

The fire danger rating is a relative index of how easy it is to ignite forest fuels and how difficult a fire may be to control, considering the fire’s rate of spread and the quantity of fuel available. It also helps the public to adapt their behavior when partaking in activities in or nearby the forest. 

By checking the fire danger before going into the forest, you take the first step in preventing human-caused fires. Every year, many wildfires are caused by campfires that were left unattended or were not properly extinguished. Be sure to keep the forest safe by following the previous tips!

Many people enjoy gathering around a backyard fireplace with friends and family. Who doesn’t love roasting marsh-mallows over a fire? But the last thing anyone wants is to have that fire escape from their fireplace, endangering the lives or property of family, friends, neighbors or the community.

Check with your local Fire Department for any regulations before installing a fireplace in your backyard. Note that most cities and towns have specific regulations for backyard fireplaces which take precedence over any recommendations cited here.

Here are some best practices to avoid a dangerous situation:

  • A fireplace should be composed of non-flammable materials, with a surface area no greater than 1m2 (3ft2) and no less than 15cm (6 in) in height.
  • Cover the fireplace with wire mesh (6mm openings), to help prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Consider purchasing a safety standard approved commercial fireplace rather than constructing one.
  • The area under the fireplace should be bared to mineral soil or composed of non-flammable material such as brick or concrete.
  • The fireplace should be at least 3m (10ft) from all fine fuels such as pine needles, dead leaves and twigs.
  • The height of grass or weeds growing within 3m (10ft) of the fireplace should be no more than 10cm (4 in) in height.
  • The fireplace should be at least 2.5m (8ft) away from trees.
  • Remove overhanging tree limbs to a minimum of 2.5m (8ft) above the fireplace.
  • Fireplaces should be at least 3m (10ft) from the home, wooden fences, wooden decks and any outbuildings.

    A good alternative to a wood burning fireplace is a gas burning fireplace. Here are some advantages to using a gas burning fireplace:

  • The flame can be easily controlled or extinguished by using the fuel control valve.
  • There is no smoke emitted from the fire.
  • There are no sparks emitted from the fire.
  • There is no risk of hot coals left unextinguished.
  • There are no ashes to clean from the fireplace.
  • These best practices do not guarantee that a fire won’t escape your fireplace but they will certainly reduce the risk. 

Always Check Local Burning Conditions
Before Lighting a Fire!

Stay Alert and Never Leave your Fire Unattended!