Wildfire Prevention and Fire Restrictions
More than 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, so each of us plays a role in preventing a wildfire. It’s important to be aware of and abide by current fire restrictions. And it’s important to understand wildfire prevention strategies related to camping, campfires, driving, outdoor equipment use, smoking, shooting and more.
Summit County Fire Restrictions
The Summit County Board of Commissioners has enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, June 18. The county is currently in severe drought conditions due to a low snow year. This will only in intensify as we move into summer and warmer weather. We ask that our community exercise caution and participate in wildfire mitigation strategies including our upcoming wood chipping program.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions - Prohibited Activities
The following activities and uses are also prohibited under Stage 1 Restrictions:
- Open Fires: Open Fires, except those that have been permitted in the permitted activities. For purposes of these Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, Open Fires shall be defined as any outdoor fire, including but not limited to campfire, warming fires, bonfires, or the prescribed burning of fence rows, fields, wildlands, trfash and debris.
- Smoking: Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, designated outdoor areas where smoking is permitted, or while stopped in an area that is at least three feet in diameter and is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
- Fireworks: The use and/or sale of recreational fireworks.
- Explosives: The use of tracer ammunition, including recreational use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material, or other chemical substance. The use of recreational explosives, including explosive targets.
- Disposal: Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including without limitation, any cigarette, cigar or match.
- Chainsaws: Operation of a chainsaw is prohibited without a USDA or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.
- Commercial and Industrial Operations: Blasting, grinding, welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame without being in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter and keeping a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) with the operator.
Permitted Activities Under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
In order to reduce the danger of wildfires while allowing certain limited fires and otherwise prohibited activities to continue during Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, the following open fires and activities that are otherwise prohibited are permitted so long as they are conducted in strict compliance with this section:
- Solid-Fuel Burning Fires (Wood or Charcoal)- Igniting, building, and maintaining fires on private property must be permitted by the applicable local fire protection district and meet the following requirements:
- The fire is contained to:
- A permanent outdoor fireplace or fire ring with a screen to reduce the spread of embers; or
- A portable outdoor fireplace that is assembled, located, and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions with a screen to reduce the spread of embers. For purposes of these restrictions, a portable outdoor fireplace means a portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning (wood or charcoal) fireplace that is constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material; or
- A commercially designed chiminea with a screen to reduce the spread of embers;
- The area directly underneath the fire is barren;
- The fire is at least fifteen (15) feet from any flammable material and/or structure;
- The size of the fire is no larger than (3) feet wide and (2) feet tall; AND
- Safety measures are in place as required by subsection f below.
- The occurrence of any permissible fire, as detailed above in subsection 1, must also include the following safety measures:
- The fire must be constantly attended by a responsible adult;
- The fire must be extinguished and cool to the touch prior to being left unattended; and
- The supervising adult must have available for immediate utilization a minimum of:
- (1) one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 2A10BC rating; OR
- A minimum 5 gallon water container; OR
- A charged garden hose.
- The fire is contained to:
- Liquid or Gas-Fueled Devices: heating devices, stoves, grills, lanterns, fire pits, fireplaces or fire tables that include shut-off valves are permitted allowed when used in an area at least three or more feet from flammable materials such as grasses or pine needles.
- Fires Contained Inside Permanent Structures: Any fire contained within a fireplace, stove, wood burning stove, or pellet stove designed for and located within a fully enclosed permanent structure.
- Developed Recreational Site: Any fire within a campground or picnic area (developed recreation site) contained to a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the USDA Forest Services has installed and maintained.
- Grills, Stoves and Smokers: Use of gas, charcoal and/or wood pellet grills, smokers and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves.
- Agricultural and Large Pile Burns: with the appropriate permits from the local fire protection district and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
- Slash Burns: with the appropriate permit from the local fire protection district.
- Administrative Fires: Fires administered by any Federal, State, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
- Hot Air Balloons: Inflation or propulsion of a hot air balloon.
- Off-Highway Vehicles: Use of an “off-highway vehicle” in compliance with C.R.S. 33-14.5-101 et. seq. and Summit County Ordinance No. 09.
Restrictions in Other Counties
For information about fire restrictions in other counties, view statewide fire restriction and fire danger information across Colorado.
Wildfire Prevention Strategies
Summit County, in partnership with local towns and the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, is using a variety of strategies to prevent wildfire. Join us in our efforts by reviewing the info below and taking appropriate action. Help us stop a wildfire before it starts.
Campfire Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local fire restrictions are in place: Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, allow recreational outdoor fires only in developed campgrounds, inside permanent fire pits or fire grates; or in commercially manufactured fireplaces on private property for which the owner has obtained a valid permit from the local fire district. Outdoor fireplaces must be placed on barren ground 15 feet from any flammable material or structure and have a protective screen to catch embers. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions prohibit campfires altogether.
- Burn Safely: Keep all recreational fires small, and always have a charged hose, 2A10BC fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby. A responsible adult should monitor the fire until it is completely out. Unattended campfires are one of the most common causes of wildfires.
- Put Out Completely: Drown the fire with water, and stir with a shovel to wet all ash and coals. Feel them with the back of your hand – they should be cool to the touch. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to create a cool, wet "soup."
Vehicle Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Maintain Vehicles: Ensure that no parts (e.g., tow chains, exhaust pipes) are dragging. Keep tires properly inflated. Maintain brakes – metal-to-metal contact may throw sparks.
- Steer Clear of Vegetation: Don't park or drive over dry grasses or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you can't see. Be sure ATVs have spark arresters.
- Prepare For Fire: Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and know how to use it.
Smoking Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local restrictions are in place. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, only allow outdoor smoking in an area at least three feet in diameter free of any flammable material - smoking is not allowed in timber, brush or grass areas. During Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, smoking is prohibited anywhere outside of an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
- Extinguish Completely: Extinguish and cool cigarettes completely before discarding. Never throw cigarettes or other smoking materials on the ground or from vehicles. When outdoors, discard cigarettes and ashes in an unburnable can filled with sand.
Shooting Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: The Summit County Shooting Range may be closed because of fire danger.
- Clear Flammable Materials: Remove dry grasses and other flammable materials from around your target.
- Use Safe Targets: Don't shoot at steel or rocks; they may throw sparks into nearby vegetation. Use paper targets or clay pigeons.
- Prepare For Fire: Keep a shovel, fire extinguisher and water on hand in case a fire does start.
- In Case of Fire, Call 911 Immediately: If a fire does start, call 911 right away – any delay could be disastrous. Do not wait.
Equipment Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check Restrictions and Regulations: Stage 1 and 2 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, include restrictions and safety requirements for outdoor use of various types of equipment, including chainsaws, mowers, torches and welding equipment.
- Mowing: Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires.
- Spark Arresters: Spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, chainsaws, harvesters, weedeaters and mowers.
- Maintenance: Keep exhaust systems, spark arresters and all equipment in working order and free of carbon buildup.
- Equipment Use:
- Use the recommended grade of fuel, and don’t top it off.
- Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher ready to use.
- In wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit and 10 feet of clearance.
- Don’t drive vehicles onto dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t see until it’s too late.
- Keep a cell phone or radio nearby and call 911 immediately in case of fire. Delays can have devastating results.
Debris Burning Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Permit: In Summit County, a permit is always required to burn slash or forest debris. To obtain a permit, applicants must contact Summit County Environmental Health and their local fire district (Summit Fire & EMS or Red, White & Blue Fire). Fire restrictions that limit debris burning may be in effect.
- How: Don't burn unless weather conditions (especially wind) are such that burning can be considered safe. Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site. A responsible adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is completely out. Landscape debris piles must be in small 4-feet-by-4-feet piles. Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile.
- What: Do not burn garbage or household trash outdoors at residences. Dry, natural vegetation grown on the property may be burned outdoors in open piles, with a permit.
- When: Don't burn if it is windy or if surrounding vegetation is very dry. Obey all local and state laws and restrictions.
- Air Quality: Visit Summit County Environmental Health for guidelines on minimizing air quality impacts from smoke emissions.
Wildfire Prevention Patrol
Summit County has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct wildfire prevention patrols. A four-person U.S. Forest Service crew is patrolling the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest throughout the summer.
The crew conducts campsite monitoring, visitor contacts and fire-prevention messaging throughout the Dillon Ranger District, which is located entirely within Summit County. Crew members inform visitors about U.S. Forest Service and Summit County regulations that protect natural resources and prevent wildfires. Contact with individuals in undeveloped, dispersed campsites is the top priority. In addition to the USFS crew, personnel from the Summit County Sheriff's Office also conducts fire-prevention patrol work.
The Wildfire Prevention Patrol is a Summit County Strong Future initiative.
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers, baby food)
- Can opener
- Clothing, hats, sturdy shoes
- Duct tape
- Emergency blanket and/or sleeping bags
- Emergency contact information
- Family contact information
- First aid kit
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- Food: Non-perishable, 3-day supply
- Games and books
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Hand sanitizer
- Items of sentimental value that could not be replaced
- Keys: House, vehicles
- Medical items, devices, records and information
- Medication: 7-day supply; list of medications
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- Personal documents (proof of address, home lease/deed, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Pet supplies: food, leash, carrier, bowl
- Phone, tablet, laptop and power cords
- Rain gear
- Toiletries and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, razor, soap, sun screen, hair brush)
- Water: 3 gallons/person
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