Wildfire season officially begins
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Wildfire season officially begins 

April 14, 2009
Wildfire season officially begins
Restrictions for workers and recreational visitors in effect April 15 through October 15

OLYMPIA – Consistent with state law, Washington’s wildfire season begins tomorrow. Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark urges all Washingtonians to help prevent wildland and forest fires.

“With fire season upon us, we want to remind people how quickly vegetation can dry out and then carry fire if ignited,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “With help from everyone, the damage and expense of wildfires this year can be reduced significantly.”

“This is the time of year when people should be assessing their property and taking steps to develop defensible space around their homes,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “The key is to take actions before there is actual risk from a wildfire.”

Seventeen forest fires have already been reported this year on lands protected by DNR. Last year, ninety-three percent of wildfires on lands protected by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were contained at less than 10 acres in size. A total of more than 76,076 acres burned all across Washington.

Washington’s summer fire rules
Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 12.7 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.

These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, bulldozer operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment at the job site, in good working order, with staff trained in its proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas to roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet
Woods workers and industrial forest users also must observe Industrial Fire Precaution Levels, which may change daily and which classify varying levels of fire danger in different parts of the state. More information is available from the following sources:

  • DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov . Click on Fire & Burning Regulations to review regional precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.
  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.
  • DNR e-mail at RPD@dnr.wa.gov . Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

Wildfire community assistance
With DNR’s help, more forest landowners and communities are better prepared for wildfires each year. In Washington, counties and local communities have completed forty community wildfire protection plans. In addition, twenty-seven communities have received national recognition for their fire prevention efforts through the Firewise Communities USA program. With DNR’s assistance last year, 60 fire districts acquired Wildfire Personal Protective Equipment that increases their capability to suppress wildfires while they are small in their communities.

DNR’s four fire prevention teams are dispatched at the times and places of greatest fire danger in the state. These teams save money, natural resources, and lives by focusing fire prevention efforts when and where they are most effective.

DNR’s wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with over a thousand employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over seven hundred DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers.  Additionally, Department of Correction inmates participate in the DNR correctional camps program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Media Contact:  Aaron Toso, Communications Director, 360-902-1023, aaron.toso@dnr.wa.gov  

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