Wildfire Prevention

The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) firmly believes that it is more effective to focus a few resources on fire prevention rather than many resources of fire suppression. The agency has a long history of prevention education – helping citizens understand how to prevent a wildfire from starting and spreading.

Wildfire prevention actions are typically focused on preventing unwanted debris-burning fire escapes – Virginia’s leading cause of wildfires. DOF supports careful outdoor burning completed in a safe and lawful manner. Citizens are urged to always monitor the weather and to take extra precautions with any outdoor fire, to ensure that it remains under control.

DOF uses at least two key programs to raise the awareness of wildfire prevention.

  • The Firewise Virginia program works with Virginia homeowners and communities to reduce their potential threat from fire through proper wildfire preparation.
  • Smokey Bear programs highlight fire and campfire safety with a special emphasis on Virginia youth.

Before Your Burn

Burning yard trimmings or leaves is a common practice, but a dangerous one. Winds can blow burning yard waste and embers far off site and ignite combustible vegetation. Fall and spring are ideal times to reduce excess vegetation around your home that could pose an escaped fire threat.

Learn more about burning safely before you burn.

How You Can Prevent Wildfires

Unlike many natural disasters, most wildfires are caused by people – and can be prevented by people, too. The easiest and cheapest way to suppress a fire is before it starts.

Learn more about how you can prevent wildfires.

Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear has been the voice of fire prevention for many years. Popular with young and old alike, his messages encouraging fire safety and being careful with fire remain relevant in our efforts to prevent wildfires.

Learn more about Smokey Bear in Virginia.

Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent TypeViewhf:tax:document-categoryhf:tax:Media
Brush Piles for Wildlife
Brush Piles for WildlifeP00201

Brochure educates landowners about an excellent alternative to burning brush on his or her property, including where to build a brush pile, building a brush pile, and maintenance. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response forest-managementpublication
Coloring Book for Smokey's Friends
Coloring Book for Smokey’s Friends

Coloring book teaches Smokey’s 5 rules of fire prevention for children.

Firewise Communities for Virginia
Firewise Communities for VirginiaP00111

Brochure provides important steps to protecting your home and community from wildfire, including firewise landscaping, defensible space, fire-resistant roof and exterior construction, fire-resistant attachments, steps to becoming a firewise community, a disaster plan, defensible space, and emergency access. Printed copies available.

Home Wildfire Safety Checklist - Is Your Home Firewise?
Home Wildfire Safety Checklist – Is Your Home Firewise?FT0002

Forestry topic information sheet provides a checklist of items to answer about your home to assist in identifying characteristics of your home that may require changes to improve the wildfire safety of your home.

Mulch Fires
Mulch FiresP00130

Brochure provides insight into the serious threat of mulch fires and steps you can take to be aware of this fire safety hazard. Printed copies available.

Outdoor Fire Laws
Outdoor Fire LawsP00107

Brochure provides an overview, as well as detailed fire law information in the Commonwealth of Virginia, encouraging citizens to know the forest fire laws and local ordinances before burning, and safety tips for burning. Printed copies available.

Phragmites and Fire
Phragmites and FireP00109

Brochure describes just what phragmites is, why it is a serious threat, how to recognize the problem, and reducing the risk to your home and property.

Safe Debris Burning
Safe Debris BurningP00133

Brochure provides a fire safety alert to this common danger, including alternatives to burning, building a shelter for wildlife, burning responsibly, and safety tips. Printed copies available.

Services for Landowners
Services for LandownersP00112

Brochure provides information about the services available to landowners from the Virginia Department of Forestry, including forest management and forest health, timber harvesting and water quality, land conservation, tree seedling production, and resource protection. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management forestland-conservation nurseries urban-and-community-forestry water-qualitypublication
Virginia Reader
Virginia ReaderP00110

Newspaper-style publication provides fire safety and prevention information for youth, including fire and water, fire behaviour, the fire triangle, history of fire, fighting wildland fires, effects of fire on water quality, effects of fire on air quality, and a crossword puzzle to test what you learn.

Virginia's 4PM Burning Law Amended for Orchard and Vineyard Growers
Virginia’s 4PM Burning Law Amended for Orchard and Vineyard Growers

Information sheet provides guidance regarding the 4PM burning law amended for orchard and vineyard growers allowing burning for freeze/frost protection.


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