FIREWISE New York
Wildland Fire Safety and Prevention
Forest Ranger Emergency Contact:
- 518-891-0235 (Adirondacks)
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers and the national Firewise Communities program are working to inform New York State residents about wildland fire safety and prevention.
Wildland Fire (Wildfire)
Wildland fires (wildfires) are cyclic, naturally-occurring events in most wildland areas. Periodic wildland fires reduce the amount of "fuel" (dead branches, brush, leaf litter, etc.) in the forest, preventing larger more destructive fires. Periodic fires also help promote the growth of certain species of trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns and wild flowers. Wildland fires help maintain healthy, natural landscapes. However, wildland fires can also result in disastrous loss of life, property, and natural resources.
Wildland fires do occur in New York State. Many areas in New York, particularly those that are heavily forested or contain large tracts of brush and shrubs, are prone to fires. The Adirondacks, Catskills, Hudson Highlands, Shawangunk Ridge, and Long Island Pine Barrens are examples of fire-prone areas.
DEC Forest rangers are concerned that many rural communities throughout the state may be at risk from wildfire damage. Wildfires may occur more frequently, with greater intensity, and with much more potential for damage because of a variety of factors, including:
- Accumulation of fuels, like dead branches, brush and leaf litter, due to the lack of significant fires in the recent past;
- Climate change, causing warmer and dryer fire seasons, increasing the threat of fires starting from lightning strikes;
- Increased construction of homes and structures in densely forested areas, increasing threats to life and property; and
- Firefighting resources that are insufficient to combat larger fires and protect structures.
Due to their remoteness and scenic beauty, forests and other wildland areas are increasingly attracting people who build primary residences or seasonal homes. These homes are susceptible to wildland fires, as they are often built on the edge or in the middle of fuels that feed wildland fires-trees, shrubs, and brush.
Homes and other buildings in these areas are referred to as the wildland/urban interface. The wildland/urban interface is any location where human structures and woodlands intermingle, allowing a wildland fire to reach beyond trees, brush, and other natural fuels to ignite homes and their immediate surroundings.
Each year, 140,000 wildland fires occur in the U.S., destroying more than 1,000 homes. During the spring of 2005, structure loss was reported on 58 wildland fires in the Northeast. By the end of June 2005, 45 homes and 166 outbuildings were lost to wildland fires in 10 northeastern states.
Homeowners and communities can take steps to reduce the risk of wildland fire and protect their lives and property from wildland fire. Learn more by using the links below.