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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.


Prevention Measures for Agriculture Land Clearing Burning Activities

Forested land is cleared annually for agriculture purposes with unsalvageable woody debris disposed of through debris piling and controlled burning. Burning usually occurs in the late fall when weather conditions are more suitable. Each province/state has regulation and policy in place to ensure fire escapes do not occur from burning activities. Burning permits are usually required and provide specific site management and burn conditions.

The following are common fire prevention measures associated with land clearing burning activities:

  • A fire guard (usually 10-15m (33-49ft) wide) of exposed mineral soil is to be established around the perimeter of the burn site.
  • Windrows/piles are to be a safe distance from adjacent fuels (e.g. forests, grass-usually 20-25m (66-82 ft)).
  • Parallel windrows/piles are to be separated at a distance that they will not ignite each other (usually 15m (49 ft)).
  • Keep windrows/piles a manageable length (usually <60m (197ft)).
  • Minimize mixing of mineral soil in debris piles for a clean burn.
  • Garbage of any sort (e.g. tires, plastic, household wastes, treated wood, petroleum wastes, etc.) is not to be incorporated into the burn piles.
  • Limit the number of piles or area being burned to a level that on-site personnel and equipment can extinguish should weather conditions change.
  • Select wind directions and burning conditions that minimize smoke exposure to neighbors.
  • Burn when the Fire Weather Index and wind speed is at the level permitted in your local area.
  • If the Fire Weather Index or winds exceed permitted levels immediately extinguish the fire.
  • Have adequate water and equipment on-site to control and possibly extinguish the fire if necessary.
  • Continually monitor the fire by a responsible person/s until the fire is extinguished.
  • Watch for sparks starting spot fires on adjacent lands.
  • Once the fire is out check the entire burn site for hot spots and extinguish any found.

It is the responsibility of the landowner to understand the site management and burning requirements specific to their area.
Contact your local authority for requirements and details

Fall and Forest Fire Safety go Hand in Hand

With the onset of cooler weather and autumn colours, fall may be one of the most enjoyable seasons for outdoor activities. However, as cooler temperatures set in, vegetation will die and dry out and become very flammable. Keep in mind, forest fire prevention and mitigation messaging is still applicable, and it is vital that we be wary of forest fires during this time of the year.

Campfire Safety

In most regions, the Forest Fire Season extends well into the fall. Depending on where you are located, local regulations and restrictions may be in place if you wish to have an open fire on forested land.

If you plan to have an open fire, we recommend you follow these simple steps.

  • Check local regulations to ensure you are allowed to burn.
  • Check the Fire Hazard rating for your region.
  • When selecting a site for the fire:
    • ensure the location is protected from winds gusts;
    • select a site that is close to an adequate source of water;
    • clear an area, at least a three metres (10 feet) in diameter, free of all combustible material such as grass, sticks or other vegetation;
    • make sure there is no overhead or hanging vegetation; and
    • if possible, dig a pit for the fire and surround it with rocks to contain your fire.

  • When your fire is burning:
    • keep your fire small and contained within the fire ring;
    • NEVER EVER leave a fire unattended;
    • always keep water and a shovel nearby to extinguish your fire; and
    • pay attention to the weather conditions. Wind gusts can quickly spread embers and ignite nearby vegetation.
  • Finally, MAKE SURE YOUR FIRE IS COMPLETELY OUT BEFORE YOU LEAVE! Soak your fire with plenty of water, stir it with a shovel and soak it again. Make sure it is cool to touch before leaving.

Gasoline Powered Equipment

In wildland and forested areas, it is vital that equipment be properly maintained. All portable, gasoline-powered equipment such as; chainsaws, all-terrain vehicles, lawn mowers and weed trimmers are required to be equipped with functioning spark arresters and muffler systems.

  • Keep your exhaust system and spark arresters in proper working order and free of carbon build up and debris.
  • Many provinces and states require all-terrain vehicles to be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Check local regulations to determine the appropriate size and class.
  • When travelling over dry, grassy terrain, remember the heat from your exhaust system can quickly ignite a wildfire. Avoid parking in tall dry grass.

Be FireSmart or Firewise around your Home, Cottage or Cabin

The threat of forest fires is real for anyone living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The WUI is any developed area where structures and other human developments, intermix with wildland or vegetative fuels. Within this area both natural and constructed fuels exist, and depending on the material used, can quickly advance the spread of wildfire.

The fall is a great time to clear debris in and around your home, cottage or cabin. As a homeowner, it is important to know there are simple things you can do to greatly improve the chances of your home surviving a wildfire. 

To learn more visit:

FireSmart Canada

Firewise USA

With fall approaching, we encourage all residents to keep these important forest fire prevention and mitigation messages in mind.