Posted at 10:40 a.m.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect from noon until 8 p.m. today for Fairfax County as well as most of the National Capital Region.
A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and dry fuels will create explosive fire growth potential.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for relative humidity of 20-25 percent; Northwest winds 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph; and fuel moisture between 5-8 percent. The combination of gusty winds and dry fuels will promote the rapid spread of any uncontrolled fires.
And as a reminder, the statewide 4 p.m. Burning Law, which went into effect Feb. 15, prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day (Feb. 15 - April 30) if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
Red Flag Warning
Red Flag Warnings are issued by National Weather Service fire weather forecasters to alert forecast users to an ongoing or imminent critical fire weather pattern. The warning product alerts land management agencies to the potential for widespread new ignitions or control problems with existing fires, both of which could pose a threat to life and property. It is issued when it is an on-going event or the fire weather forecaster has a high degree of confidence that Red Flag criteria will occur within 48 hours of issuance.
Red Flag criteria is based on local area vegetation characteristics, local climatology, select weather criteria and/or any combination of critical weather and fuel moisture forecasts. In some states, dry lightning and unstable air are criteria.
Learn about wildfires from Ready.gov.
Posted at 1:22 p.m.
The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law went into effect Feb. 15 – the start of spring fire season in Virginia.
This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day (Feb. 15 – April 30) if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.
Burning of leaves, yard waste or trash continues to be the major cause of wildfires in Virginia. These debris fires can easily escape unless proper precaution is taken.
Posted at 12:07 p.m.
Many families use the Thanksgiving holiday to find the perfect holiday tree and put it up in the home.
Our Fire and Rescue Department crews distributed Christmas tree safety tags to holiday tree lot vendors before Thanksgiving. The green and white 5 x 8 inch tags provide valuable fire safety tips to remember when purchasing a tree. Vendors will provide the “Fire Safety and Your Tree” tags with every tree purchase while they last.
Here are the Christmas tree fire safety tips that are on the tag:
- Keep tree base immersed in water.
- Do not permit smoking near the tree.
- Use only lights that are Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.) approved.
- Use flame retardant decorations and paper.
- Inspect lights for frayed or cracked wiring, broken plugs, and defective sockets.
- Unplug lights at night and when leaving the home.
- Remove the tree soon after the holidays–before the needles dry out.
You can print a copy of the tag here.
Posted at 11:12 a.m.
Thanksgiving means many things to different people — perhaps a day off from work, the start of the holiday shopping season or a time to gather the family and friends and enjoy each others’ company, along with some good home cooking.
Our Fire and Rescue Department reports that Thanksgiving Day is the busiest day for the fire service. More property damage and lives are lost in residential structure fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year due to cooking fires.
For many, Thanksgiving means cooking a turkey. A poplular way to prepare the turkey is to deep fry it. But deep frying does present several safety concerns.
When placing the turkey into the oven or turkey fryer, be extremely careful.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.
- Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.
- Fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.
Check out this video to see what can happen if your cooker is overfilled, and for additional safety tips for deep frying to keep your holiday safe.
If having a fried turkey is a must for Thanksgiving, consider purchasing a fried, cooked turkey from a commercial source. Many supermarkets and restaurants accept orders for fried turkeys during the holiday season.
Here are more cooking safety tips:
- Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying or grilling food. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
- Keep anything that can catch fire–potholders, towels, or curtains away from the stovetop.
- Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when cooking.
You also can visit the Fire and Rescue Department online for more fire and seasonal life safety tips.
Posted at 1:12 p.m.
Firefighters and paramedics will have displays and activities emphasizing fire safety, including preventing fires and fire injuries, especially in the home. We encourage you to visit a nearby fire and rescue station to participate in the activities and learn more about fire safety.
Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13)
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 3,000 people die in home fires each year. About two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working alarms. In 23 percent of home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present but did not sound. Bedrooms (55 percent) are the leading location where fire fatalities occur in residential buildings. Seventy percent of fire victims in residential buildings were escaping or sleeping at the time of their deaths. Smoking was the leading cause of fatal fatalities in residential buildings.
The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, “Have Two Ways Out!,” focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice. USFA encourages us to prepare and practice our fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in our household, including children and people with disabilities. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire.
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Posted 9:02 p.m.
In any of these examples or for other places you may have visited, did you know two ways out of the building/home? If there’s a fire or other unexpected need to evacuate, are you prepared?
When developing your family escape plan, our fire and rescue department recommends that your plan includes two exits from each room, an outside meeting place and alternatives for any family members needing extra assistance.
Additionally, practice your plan with all members of the household regularly.
Practice this at home, but also always keep in mind two ways to exit whatever building you may be in at the time of an incident if you must leave.
BONUS ASK: Mark your calendars to attend! On Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., all 37 fire and rescue stations will be host community open houses, spotlighting fire prevention. The theme for 2012 is “Have Two Ways Out!” It serves to remind us all of the simple actions we can take to stay safe from fire year round. Every firehouse will host activities, provide tours and have available fire prevention educational materials.
TELL US you’ve done this:
- Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
- Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
- Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org that you accomplished an ask.
SHARE THIS TIP:
- Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!
The National Weather Service has issued an enhanced threat for wildfires late this afternoon and early evening.
This is especially important to keep in mind because on Friday, a fire at a home in Centreville was started when an unidentified passerby improperly discarded smoking materials into the mulch near the structure. Damage is estimated at $160,000.
Northwest winds will gust around 20 to 25 mph today behind a cold front across most of Maryland, northern and central Virginia. The relative humidity will drop to around 30 percent and fuel moisture remains low due to little rainfall over the last several days. The combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity and low fuel moisture will enhance the threat for the spread of wildfires during this time.
Open burning of any type is considered very hazardous this time of year. Accidental escaped debris burns are the No. 1 cause of wildfires. Please be careful igniting any flames (grills, etc.), discarding cigarettes and handling other flammable materials that may lead to brush and wildfires.
Posted 12:19 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a special statement today about the continued increase chance of fires in our area.
Today’s weather includes northwest winds around 15 mph, gusting to 25 mph coupled with relative humidity drops between 25 and 35 percent. These factors combined with low fuel moisture will create an enhanced threat for the spread of wildfires across much of northern and central Virginia, in addition to Maryland and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.
Winds will diminish and relative humidity will increase toward sunset.
Open burning of any type is considered very hazardous this time of year. Accidental escaped debris burns are the No. 1 cause of wildfires. Please be careful igniting any flames, discarding cigarettes and handling other flammable materials that may lead to brush and wildfires.