DFR Request Your Help in Preventing Outside Fires

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Provided by Prince William County

During this time of the year, leaves have transformed into an array of colors; although beautiful, along with their branches, they dry out, becoming a dangerous fuel for a blaze. With all this fuel, “lying” around, there is the potential for an outside fire. A fast moving outside fire traveling through brush, dry leaves and other debris can quickly spread to a house or other buildings.

Outside fires consist of wildland fires, crop fires, rubbish fires, arson fires, recreational fires, equipment use fires and mulch fires often started by human activity such as smoking materials and open burning of debris. In 2013, according to the National Fire Protection Association, 564,500 outside fires were reported. Of those fires, an estimated 254,500 were brush, grass, and wildland fires.

Although ninety percent of fires are due to human error or carelessness, these fires are preventable. To prevent outside fires, follow these simple safety tips:

Proper Disposal of Smoking Materials

  • DO NOT discard smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars and lighted matches into mulch laden landscapes, flower beds, shrubs, bushes, grassy areas or woods
  • Protect your home or business by providing an area for individuals to properly extinguish and discard their smoking materials


  • Provide a reasonable amount of space between flammable vegetation and your home or business to create a fire-wise/fire-safe area
  • Avoid using highly combustible plants; use fire resistant plants (visit your local nursery for assistance)
  • Remove dead plants, trees and shrubs, wood, debris and low tree branches
  • Clear leaves, pine needles and small branches from rain gutters
  • Remove small trees and plants growing under trees; they permit ground fires to jump into tree crown
  • Regularly, trim grass surrounding your home or business (up to 100 feet)
  • Stack firewood at least 30 feet from your home
  • Provide proper clearance to electric devices, e.g., decorative lights
  • Residents should not try to rid their property of debris by burning it
  • Contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360 regarding state burning laws or visit their web site at www.pwcgov.org/fire see Burning Regulations

Decorative/Building Materials

  •  Avoid using materials that burn such as wood and use the following:
    o Siding – stucco or aluminum siding
    o Fences – stone, metal or vinyl
    o Decks – stone, masonry, or tile

Additional Safety Tips

Most homes and businesses have exterior water faucets/spouts, purchase a hose(s) that will allow you to not only water your landscape but serve as a fire hose. In the event fire occurs among your landscape, the fire hose will help to saturate the area with water in an attempt to prevent the fire from further spreading to vegetation surrounding your home or business.
Whether at home or on the go, if you discover an outside fire, Call 911 Immediately!


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