Burning safely and living less dangerously from wildfire

Blog Post created by michelesteinberg Employee on Nov 16, 2015

Much of what NFPA's Firewise program recommends is to keep homes and residential landscapes from becoming "fuel" for wildfires. This includes getting rid of downed limbs, dead vegetation, woody debris, pine needles and the like. But once you've gotten all of this unwanted, flammable material away from your house, what do you do with it? 

For many communities, the solution is to make a burn pile and get rid of the fuel in a safe and controlled manner. If you're planning to burn your flammable debris, make sure you know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. For some living in urban areas, this might not be an option at all (for example, in my home state of Massachusetts, it is NEVER okay to conduct open burns in 22 cities and towns). And even if it is allowed in your area, check with your state environmental agency and/or your local fire department. Most Californians can burn with a permit starting November 9, but folks in Massachusetts have to wait until January 15. Many municipalities have additional laws or restrictions on burning that it pays to check out.

Assuming you are OK to burn and have your permit, be safe about it! Never burn on a windy day, have water ready to extinguish fire, and make sure you are nowhere near your house (or your neighbor's house) when you light your burn pile. Each state and some localities will also specify what material is OK (and not OK) to burn. Dry leaves are a big no-no. 

Check out this great video from the Nevada County Fire Safe Council in California for excellent tips on having a safe and successful burn pile. 


For more tips on how to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire, check out NFPA's Firewise website and even more wildfire resources on its homepage.

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