As a wildland firefighter, you recognize that wildfire prevention is essential for many diverse reasons. The main concern with wildland fires is the health and well-being of surrounding communities. Not only do these events injure and even kill individuals, but the damages done to towns can be detrimental, causing displacement, financial loss, and heartache. As a wildland firefighter, you know that educating and practicing proper fire safety practices saves lives.
Wildfires create many negative outcomes, which is why prevention so important. Environmental damage is only the tip of the iceberg. While some wildfires are beneficial to plants and wildlife, such as prescribed fires, these more frequent fires lead to harmful deforestation. Along with injuring and killing animals, the destruction takes away the healthy ecosystem from wildland critters. Seeing as these ecosystems, especially trees and plants, help maintain the natural balance of the Earth, it's crucial that we don't allow wildfires to create a more dangerous environment.
Read on to learn the seven best ways to prevent wildland fires, both as a forest visitor and wildland firefighter.
1 – Understanding Weather and Environmental Conditions
While wildfires can occur at a moment's notice, certain weather conditions are more optimal for this event. Droughts and dry weather, along with dead vegetation, are the perfect mixture for a wildfire.
Additionally, hot, windy days can turn a small fire into a multi-day, destructive occurrence. By recognizing that the chances of starting a wildfire are higher during specific weather and environmental conditions, you can stay better prepared for emergencies. Additionally, you can pass this information on by educating forest visitors and local communities, especially on days when the conditions are ripe for a fire.
2 – Cold Fires Are Dead Fires
Unfortunately, many fires caused by campfires start after the fires die out. That's because the heat left over from the burning can still create embers that light up the surrounding vegetation and buildings.
Many campers don't know that a campfire should be absolutely cold to the touch to ensure it is dead. Eliminate the risk of starting a wildfire by repeatedly dousing and stirring water on a lit campfire until you can touch it. Additionally, when fighting active fires, ensure that you completely cover a section with water until it's cold, limiting the range of fire spread and destruction.
3 – Watch Out for Dry Grass
Dry grass is another common cause of large, destructive wildfires. Vegetation in this condition is highly flammable and can quickly fuel a raging fire. As such, it's essential that you and forest visitors always take extra care when the grass is dry.
It's recommended that you never leave a vehicle or gas-powered machine on patches of dry gas – the likelihood of the car/device causing a spark and leading to a wildfire is very high. In fact, vehicle exhaust can generate more than enough heat to start a fire. Furthermore, campers should take extra caution when making campfires. They should create proper barriers around active fires. In some instances where the grass is too dry, they should suspend campfire activities.
4 – Equipment Maintenance Matters
Along with ensuring that your vehicles and machines aren't on dry patches of grass, it's essential that all equipment you use while in the wildlands is well maintained. Faulty equipment is more likely to cause sparks.
A leaky, gas-powered machine can quickly spread flammable fuel throughout the forest, increasing the risk of a disaster. Repair any devices that show significant signs of wear and tear and pose an increased threat to the environment. Encourage the residents of surrounding communities to use quality, good-condition equipment when conducting house and lawn work. Fires starting from faulty equipment can spread rapidly.
5 – Stay Vigilant
Part of wildland fire prevention practices is keeping a keen eye on the forest at all times. This includes looking out for any unattended fires or potential hazards. Oftentimes, these threats are not obvious to the average individual.
As a wildland firefighter, it's your responsibility to handle any potential issues when they arise and educate others so that they can see the risks, too. If you're simply camping/visiting a wildland area, and you notice one of these problems, contact help immediately – a fast response is vital to successfully containing raging, destructive fires.
6 – Encourage Natural Fire Starters
Campers will inevitably make fires – unfortunately, some individuals opt for fire-starting agents when making their campfire to expedite the process. These flammable liquids might be great at getting a fire going, but they significantly increase the chances of spreading that fire and causing real damage. Encourage campers not to use chemicals when making fires and educate them on better methods.
7 – Always Avoid Fireworks
Fireworks are often a cause of wildland fires, and their ability to start a fire makes them a massive threat. No matter the weather or environmental conditions, you should never allow fireworks in a wooded area. They produce a lot of heat, energy, and sparks, and their trajectory isn't always consistent.
Plus, non-professionals are often unaware of proper lighting and fire prevention practices related to fireworks, exasperating emergencies when they occur. We highly recommend that you actively discourage visitors and local residents from firing off fireworks near forests and other vegetation. If this is not possible, educate others on the best ways to safely enjoy this popular activity, including the supplies they need to quell a potential incident.
Understanding these seven ways to prevent wildland fires is essential for forest visitors, surrounding communities, and wildland firefighters. Stopping destructive fires always starts with being properly prepared, so ensure that you recognize all of the signs that indicate an increased possibility of wildfires. When it comes to fighting on the frontlines, make sure you have all the essential equipment to stay protected and productive.
We at The Supply Cache carry a quality selection of wildland fire gear for sale from many of the industry's top brands. Browse our collection for personal protective equipment, clothing, fire-safety equipment (such as hoses, pumps, and tanks), and other important items. Feel free to contact our team today for additional information on wildfire prevention practices and related products.