RICHMOND, Va. -- Nikki-Dee Ray trained with the Virginia Department of Forestry to see how they fight forest fires. If you have a job you'd like Nikki-Dee to try, click here and fill out the form.
"In Virginia, most wildfires are the result of human actions (such as burning trash or yard debris), and can be prevented by using common sense, following fire safety rules and obeying fire laws," a department spokesperson posted online. "The greatest number of fires occur in the Commonwealth during the months of February, March, April, October and November."
To reduce the risk of fire, follow these guidelines:
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 when you are burning.
Burn when the wind is calm (10 mph or less).
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.
Create A Defensible Space Around Your Home
Severe wildfire hazards exist on most wooded homesites. Many hazards can be reduced to acceptable levels by following these fire safety guidelines.
Thin out continuous tree and brush cover within 30 feet of your home. Adequate thinning is reached in the 30 foot “defensible space” when the outer edges of tree crowns are at least 10 to 12 feet apart. If your home is on a slope, enlarge the defensible space, especially on the downhill side. If it is located at the crest of a steep hill, thin fuels at least 100 feet below the crest.
Dispose of all slash and debris left from thinning. Common disposal methods are: 1) lop & scatter; 2) pile and burn (in accordance with local burn restrictions), and 3) chipping.
Remove dead limbs, leaves and other ground litter within the defensible space.
Stack firewood uphill and at least 15 feet from your home.
Maintain an irrigated greenbelt immediately around your home using grass, flower gardens or ornamental shrubbery. An alternative is rock or other noncombustible material; avoid bark or wood chip mulch in this area.
Mow dry grasses and weeds to a height of 2” or less and keep well watered, especially during periods of high fire danger.
Prune branches from trees within the defensible space to a height of 10 feet above the ground. Also remove shrubs, small trees or other potential “ladder” fuels from beneath large trees; left in place, these can carry a ground fire into tree crowns.
Trim branches that extend over the eaves of your roof. Remove branches within 15 feet of the chimney.
Clear roof and gutters of needles and leaves to eliminate an ignition source for firebrands, especially during the hot, dry weather of the fire season.
Reduce density of surrounding woodland areas at least 100 feet out from the homesite (it is preferable to thin your entire lot). Thin trees so crowns do not touch each other. Whenever possible, harvest sawlogs, posts, poles or firewood.