NFPA study finds that a quarter of local fire department calls are to brush fires
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released findings of a report on local fire department responses to brush, grass and forest fires from 2004 through 2008. Local fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average of almost 1,000 such fires every day during that five-year period. These incidents accounted for 23% - nearly a quarter - of all fires reported to local fire departments. NFPA has called for increased participation in community-wide wildfire education and planning efforts, such as its Firewise Communities program, to help property owners reduce their risk for wildfire damage.
The report found human activity was the main cause of such fires. “Many of these fires could be prevented by following basic precautions,” said report author Marty Ahrens, manager of NPFA’s Fire Analysis and Research. “Tossing cigarettes on the ground, burning trash and ignoring fire bans are a recipe for disaster, especially during long stretches of dry weather,” said Ahrens.
While three-quarters (74%) of these fires burned less than an acre, local fire departments had to contend with an annual average of 4,800 buildings involved in brush, grass or forest fires during the five years covered by the study. More than 30,000 fires occurred per year at one or two-family homes. One of every five brush, grass or forest fires handled by local fire departments was intentionally set. While it may be more challenging to prevent someone from starting a fire, people can take steps to reduce the fuel load and prevent a fire from spreading after it starts.
“Many of these fires are threatening private property and could be avoided,” said Michele Steinberg, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities program. “Homes and other structures do not have to burn; this property does not have to be lost. Being Firewise — adhering to burn bans, knowing your community’s risk for wildfire and reducing the available fuel around your home – are the first steps to prevent losses from wildfire. Firewise is how you play a role in your wildfire security,” said Steinberg. People can find information on how to protect their homes at firewise web site.
Statistics by region:
Preventing wildfires is a community activity. Individuals can take steps to make their own property safer but may be impacted by fire spreading from a neighboring site. The Firewise program is designed to involve a neighborhood or larger community and to recognize those communities that make this commitment.
Steps to Firewise Recognition:
View all news from
Browse News by