Green Horizons

Volume 16, Number 4
Fall 2012

Know the Fire Danger Levels

Fire danger is based upon the burning index (BI). The burning index takes into account the fuel moisture, relative humidity, wind speed, temperature and recent precipitation. The burning index is the basis for fire suppression crew staffing levels.

Low Fire Danger: Burning index < 20

Open burning is usually safe with proper containers and precautions under low fire danger conditions. However, residents should always check on local ordinances that prohibit open burning under any conditions. Escaped fires are easy to extinguish. No fire crew staffing is planned for low fire danger conditions.

Moderate Fire Danger: Burning index = 21 - 30

Open burning is usually safe with the proper precautions under moderate fire danger conditions. Burning should be done in the early morning and late evening to avoid windier conditions at midday. Escaped fires can be contained with proper fire-fighting equipment. Partial fire crew staffing is planned for moderate fire danger.

High Fire Danger: Burning index = 31 - 45

Any open burning is discouraged during high fire danger. Windy conditions, low humidity and dry fuels contribute to high fire danger. Fires escape control easily and containment is difficult, endangering human safety and property. Partial or full fire staffing is planned, depending on local burning conditions.

Extreme Fire Danger: Burning index > 45

Open burning should not be attempted during extreme fire danger. Local authorities may impose burning bans. High winds and extended dry periods lead to extreme burning conditions. Open fires can quickly escape and are very difficult to control. Spot fires occur ahead of the main fire, and erratic burning conditions make fires difficult to control even for experienced fire fighters. Full fire crew staffing in planned for extreme burning conditions.

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