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Fire Safety in NJ Outdoors



Lanterns, Stoves, and Heaters

Cool all lanterns, stoves, and heaters before refueling them. They should be refueled on the ground in a cleared area; if any fuel spills, move the appliance to a new area before lighting it. Store flammable liquid fuel containers in a safe place. Never light lanterns and stoves inside a tent, trailer, or camper. If you use a lantern or stove inside a tent or trailer, be sure to have adequate ventilation. Always read and follow instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Spark Arresters

All types of equipment and vehicles are required to have spark arresters. Chain saws, portable generators, cross-country vehicles, and trail bikes, for example, require spark arresters if used in or near grass, brush, or wooded areas. Check with your local dealer to ensure that the spark arrester is functioning properly.



When smoking outdoors, safe practices require proper disposal of smoking materials and matches. Grind out your cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco in mineral soil and ensure that match heads are cold before disposing. Be careful when smoking while riding a horse or trail bike.


Charcoal Briquets

After using burning charcoal briquets, “dunk ‘em!” Don’t sprinkle. Soak the coals with lots of water; stir them and soak again. Be sure they are out COLD! Carefully feel the coals with your bare hands to be sure.


All campfires require a permit. Check with your local Forest Firewarden or local fire official regarding specific rules and regulations. Also, check the weather conditions; don’t burn on dry, windy days!

Build campfires away from trees, overhanging branches, stumps, logs, dense dry grass, and forest litter. Pile any extra fire wood away from the fire.

Keep plenty of water handy and have a shovel for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.

Start with dry twigs and small sticks. Add larger sticks as the fire builds up. Put the largest pieces of wood on last, pointing them toward the center of the fire, and gradually push them into the flames.

Keep the campfire small. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks gives plenty of heat. Scrape away litter, duff, and any organic material for a radius of 10-feet in all directions. This will keep a small campfire from spreading.

Never leave a campfire unattended!! Even a small breeze could quickly cause the fire to spread.

Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks— there may be burning embers underneath.

Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled. If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough soil or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled. Feel all materials with your bare hand. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals they can smolder and result in a fire.

Campfire Restrictions

During periods of drought, or high fire danger campfires may be restricted in accordance with the following Forest Fire Service policy:


Stage #1: Fires directly on the ground will be prohibited unless in a prepared fire ring. Fires on mineral soil which will not endanger the forest, such as in a gravel pit, may be permitted at the discretion of the Forest Fire warden issuing the permit. A prepared fire ring must be constructed of steel, stone, brick, or concrete with a gravel or masonry base. The fire ring must be located in an area cleared of organic material for a radius of 10 feet in all directions.

 Stage #2: All fires in wooded areas will be prohibited unless in an elevated prepared fireplace, elevated grill, or stove utilizing charcoal, gas, propane, natural gas or electricity. An elevated prepared fireplace must be constructed of steel, stone, brick, or concrete with the fire elevated at least one foot above the ground surface. An elevated charcoal grill may be stationary or portable, but must be located within an area cleared of organic material for a radius of 10 feet in all directions,

 Stage #3: All fires in wooded areas will be prohibited unless contained in an elevated stove using only propane, natural gas, gas, or electricity. No charcoal fires are allowed.

 Campfire restrictions will remain in effect until precipitation adequately reduces wildfire danger and restrictions are rescinded by the Forest Fire Service.



Fire Safety


New Jersey








Every year, Forest Fire Service firefighters and equipment respond to over 1,600 wildfires. These wildfires damage forests and other natural resources, as well as threaten people’s lives and improved property. People cause 99% of all wildfires in New Jersey, either accidentally or intentionally.

Since arson continues to be the leading cause of wildfires in New Jersey, please report any suspicious activities to your local Forest Fire Warden or local police.


Causes of New Jersey Forest Fires


Arson 40%

Children 17%

Miscellaneous 14%

Smoking 9 %

Campfires 6%

Equipment Use 6%

Debris Burning 4%

Railroads 3 %

Lightning 1%

New Jersey’s greatest danger of wildfires occurs during the spring months of March, April, and May, and the autumn months of October and November. Because trees are bare during these months, sunlight is allowed to reach the ground and dry the leaf litter on the forest floor. Winds during the spring and fall can be strong and dry, thus creating a deep, fluffy layer of hazardous forest fuels. Lastly, an ignition source can spark these fuels, creating a devastating wildfire.

Regardless of the season, conditions often allow wildfires to start. Wildfires may occur during any month and at any time of day, damaging valuable forests and natural resources, and threatening improved property and human lives.

Wildfires can be prevented! 99% of all wildfires in New Jersey can be prevented by being careful with the use of fire. This page  provides several tips to help you enjoy fire safely in the outdoors.  




Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!

If your fire escapes, you are liable for the cost of the damage to others.



Don’t Think


“It can’t happen to me”……It Can!


For more information about fire safety in New Jersey’s Outdoors, contact your local Forest Fire warden or one of the following Forest Fire Services offices:


Northern NJ

Division A Headquarters

20 Route 23

Franklin, NJ 07416

(973) 827-6100


Central NJ

Division B Headquarters

P.O. Box 239

New Lisbon, NJ 08064

(609) 726-9010


Southern NJ

Division C Headquarters

5555 Atlantic Avenue

Mays Landing, NJ 08330

(609) 625-1121


State Headquarters-Trenton

Forest Fire Service

501 E. State Street, 4th Floor

P.O. Box. 404

Trenton, NJ 08625-0404

(609) 292-2977




The Wildfire Problem

Land pressures, improved transportation, more leisure time and increased desire to escape the noise and pollution of the state’s urban areas has resulted in a proliferation of wildland residential subdivisions and develop­ments. The majority of these have been planned and built without due consideration to forest fire protection.

The potential for wildfire disaster in New Jersey has been dramatically illustrated in years past. Large conflagrations occurred in 1930, 1954, 1963 and more recently in 1971 and

1977. The most notable was the weekend of April 20-21, 1963, when a series of wildfires destroyed 183,000 acres, consumed 186 homes, 197 buildings, and was responsible for the loss of seven lives!! The estimated loss to improved property exceeded $8.5 million!!

Wild Land Urban Interface, or the construc­tion of residential type communities in wildland areas, has become a national problem. Forest fires burning into developments have taken an increasing toll on improved property. Several fires have reached disastrous proportions with hundreds of homes destroyed and lives lost. Residents of wooded areas must take this threat seriously and take precautions to prevent future disasters.

Protect from Flammables

Stack firewood 30 feet away from the house or other buildings. Keep flammables in safety cans. Screen openings in roof attic and floors to prevent accumulations of needles, leaves or other debris. 

Control Vegetation

A minimum fuel break of not less than 30 feet should be established and maintained around all structures by the selective removal or thinning of trees, brush, ground cover and dead plant material. The amount of additional clearance and distance required to ensure adequate fire protection depends on the fuel hazard classification. The following guide­lines should be used:

 O   Moderate Hazard: non-pine barrens, hard wood forest and northern hardwoods a distance of 30 feet measured from the structure 

O   High Hazard: pine barrens forest includ­ing mature forms of pine oak and oak pine a distance of 75 feet measured from the structure

 O   Extreme Hazard: immature pine oak or oak pine less than 20 feet tall, pine scrub oak and all classes of pitch pine lowland a distance of 100 feet measured from structure

 Foundation Plantings

Foundation plantings should be non-resinous and well watered (no mountain laurel or sheep laurel).

Green Lawns

A green lawn that is well watered and mowed is also a good fuel break. However, grass should not be allowed to grow tall or dry out because in that condition it is one of the fastest burning fuels.

 Access Road and Escape Route

Access roads to your property should be at least 16 feet wide to allow easy entrance for fire trucks and passage of vehicles evacuating the area. The name of the road should be posted at intersections and the name of the occupants at driveway entrance. Dead end roads should terminate in a cul-de-sac with a minimum turnaround radius of 45 feet. Plan a safe retreat route for you and your family before you are confronted with a forest fire!

 Disposal of Ashes

Take special precaution to dispose of stove or fireplace ashes in a safe manner. NEVER dump freshly removed ashes outside on dry leaves, dry grass, or other flammables!

 a)   Place ashes in a metal container.

b)   Soak with water and cover container

c)   Let sit for two days until all hot embers are extinguished

d)   Dispose of cold ashes with trash pickup or a a legal dump

 Other Considerations

a)      Area around barbeque should be cleared to mineral soil an a radius of 5 feet in all directions

b)      Have fire fighting equipment on hand  (100 feet of garden hose, nozzle shovel,  rake, bucket and extension ladder)

c)      Post phone numbers for local police, fire company and fire warden in a conspicuous place.

d)      Children in a residence should be trained in how to report a (forest) fire and what to do in an emergency.


0    Allow leaves and twigs to accumulate on roof.

0     Store flammable materials near the house foundation

0     Allow branches of nearby trees to overhang the house

0     Let trees and shrubbery growth crowd-in on the house

0    Operate a woodstove or fireplace with an unsafe flue 


0    Clean roof surfaces. Remove leaf and twig accumulation

0    Stack firewood well clear of the house foundation

0    Prune lower branches of overhanging limbs on nearby trees

0    Establish and maintain a minimum fire break of not less than 30 feet around all structures by selective removal and thinning of trees, brush and ground cover

0         Install a spark arrestor on the flue


ăTownship of West Milford OEM


To send email to Emergency Services please click here:

Mailing Address:  1480 Union Valley Road West Milford NJ 07480

Site location:  13 Edgar Drive West Milford NJ 07480