Fire Safety Tips

In Virginia, most forest fires are the result of human actions, and can be prevented by using common sense, following fire safety rules, and obeying fire laws. The greatest number of fires occur in February, March, April and May.

To reduce the risk of fire, follow these guidelines.

Open Burning

  • DO NOT leave a fire unattended (State Law year round).Clear a safety zone that is wide enough to prevent the escape of the fire.
  • If a fire does escape, call 911 immediately.
  • Keep a supply of water and a rake or shovel readily accessible.
  • Burn when the wind is calm.
  • Obey forest fire laws and air pollution regulations.
  • Burn after 4 p.m. (State Law February 15 through April 30 of each year). The law applies to campfires, warming fires, brush piles, household trash,stumps, fields of broomstraw and brush or anything capable of spreading fire. The law provides for a penalty of up to $500, plus payment of court costs and fire suppression costs if the fire escapes. Read more about the 4 p.m. Burn Law from the Code of Virginia.

Campfire Safety

  • Clear a 10-foot safety circle of all leaves, pine needles, and flammable material.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Adults should drown the fire "dead out" with water before leaving it.

Arson - report fires

  • Report acts of arson to the fire department, police, sheriff, or forest warden.
  • Report details such as: description of suspect, car, license number, etc.

Teach Children

  • Teach children safe camping behaviors.
  • Supervise all activities involving the use of fire.

Equipment Use

  • Store gasoline and flammable materials safely.
  • Refuel lawn mowers, power saws, etc. only after the engine and mufflers have cooled. Use approved gasoline containers.
  • Keep approved mufflers and spark arrestors installed and maintained.
  • Construct and maintain electric fences so they do not come in contact with dry weeds, brush or ground.
  • Park vehicles so that the exhaust system does not come in contact with dry grass, weeds or leaves.
  • Notify the electric power company when dead trees or overhanging limbs endanger the electric wires. The wires may touch each other or the ground causing sparks that start fires.