To Reduce the Risk of Wildland Fires During COVID-19 Emergency, Open Burning is Not Advised
MONTPELIER - It is strongly advised that the public postpone all outdoor burning through at least May 30, 2020. Open burning creates the risk of an escaped fire and puts pressure on emergency personnel. Given that Vermont is currently experiencing community-wide spread of COVID-19, there is a need to minimize any additional pressure on emergency personnel both in terms of response and unnecessary potential contact with people who may have COVID-19.
To date, very few wildland fires have been reported in Vermont this year. However, April and May are historically the most active months for wildland fires in the state, and most of these fires occur as a result of escaped debris burns. Looking ahead, temperatures are predicted to be above average and precipitation below normal through mid-April. Given these forecasted conditions, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation’s Wildland Fire Program anticipates that this spring has the potential to be an active wildland fire season.
Postponing open burning until conditions improve will eliminate the need for emergency personnel to respond to an unnecessary event. In cases where written permission for an open burn and a site visit are required through a “Permit to Kindle Fire,” both the permittee and Town Forest Fire Warden are put at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. Vermont’s Town Forest Fire Wardens have the statutory authority to stop issuing burn permits and many fire wardens throughout the state have taken this precautionary step. Please check in with your local Fire Warden and be considerate and patient when assessing the need to conduct any open burning. The Vermont Wildland Fire Program appreciates the public’s support in fire prevention and reducing the need for unnecessary emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about the Wildland Fire Program and to locate your town’s forest fire warden, visit https://fpr.vermont.gov/forest/wildland-fire/forest-fire-wardens.