Over the past few days, firefighters, in Prince William County and local jurisdictions, have responded to numerous outside fires. Outside fires consist of wildland fires, crop fires, rubbish fires, arson fires, recreational fires, equipment use fires and mulch fires often started by human activity such as smoking materials and open burning of debris. In 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association, 686,000 outside fires were reported, an increase of 8.2 percent over 2010. Of the 2011 outside fires, an estimated 338,000 were brush, grass, and wildland fires, a significant increase of 11.2 percent from the year before.
According to the burn law, which began on February 15th and continues through April 30th, burning is permitted between 4:00 p.m. – 12 midnight; however, a burn permit must be obtained from the Fire Marshal’s Office prior to burning. For more information on burning regulations, please visit Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue at www.pwcgov.org/fire and click on Fire Marshal’s Office and Burning Regulations or contact the Fire Marshal’s Office directly at 703-792-6360.
Although ninety percent of fires are due to human error or carelessness, these fires are preventable. To prevent outside fires, follow these simple safety tips:
Proper Disposal of Smoking Materials
· NEVER discard smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars and lighted matches in plant pots, mulch laden landscapes, flower beds, shrubs, bushes, grassy areas or woods
o Use large, deep, non-tip/sturdy ashtrays to prevent smoking materials from igniting nearby
· Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out – Put It Out. All the Way Every Time.
· Protect your home or business by providing an area for individuals to properly extinguish and discard their smoking materials
· Provide a reasonable amount of space between flammable vegetation and your home or business to create a fire-wise/fire-safe area
· Avoid using highly combustible plants; use fire resistant plants (visit your local nursery for assistance)
· Remove dead plants, trees and shrubs, wood, debris and low tree branches
· Keep plants watered during the heat of the summer
· Remove small trees and plants growing under trees; they permit ground fires to jump into tree crown
· Regularly, trim grass surrounding your home or business (up to 100 feet).
· Stack firewood at least 30 feet from your home
· Provide proper clearance to electric devices, e.g., decorative lights
· Avoid using materials that burn such as wood and use the following:
o Siding – stucco or aluminum siding
o Fences – stone, metal or vinyl
o Decks – stone, masonry, or tile
Additional Safety Tips
Most homes and businesses have exterior water faucets/spouts, purchase a hose(s) that will allow you to not only water your landscape but serve as a fire hose. In the event fire occurs among your landscape, the fire hose will help to saturate the area with water in an attempt to prevent the fire from further spreading to vegetation surrounding your home or business.
Whether at home or on the go, if you discover an outside fire, Call 911 Immediately!