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Fire safety: Prevent wildfire!

A camper pours water to put out a fire

Fire safety: Prevent wildfire!

USFS infographic - nationally, nearly 9 out of 10 fires are caused by humans

Fire safety is everyone's responsibility

Fire safety isn't just for Smokey Bear - it's your job, too! Nine out of ten wildfires in Michigan and across the nation are caused by humans. Follow our tips to prevent dangerous wildfires.

When you burn: 

  • Always have a water source nearby
  • Never leave a fire unattended, even for a minute
  • Keep a metal shovel and bucket nearby
  • Put out fires completely with water every time
  • Do not burn on windy days or during dry weather
Act quickly if you see wildfire

If you see a wildfire or your campfire gets out of control, get to safety and call 911 immediately. The sooner you call, the quicker firefighters can respond to the emergency. Immediate action can save lives.

Fire safety tips by location

Practice fire safety wherever you are.

A woman stirring ashes to ensure the fire is out.

At camp

Build your fire in a fire ring or on mineral soil.

When finished with your fire, douse it thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and douse again. Repeat until cool.

Watch for embers that can float out of a fire an ignite dry grass or leaves.

Soak used fireworks in water before discarding. Do not use sky lanterns or aerial fireworks in state parks or recreation areas.

Debris burning

Debris burning

Make sure you have permission to burn (burn permit)

Keep your fire small and manageable – no larger than three feet high and wide.

Consider composting or recycling yard waste instead of burning

Your fire should be at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or debris.

Make sure no tree branches are hanging over your firepit.

Fire break due to firewise landscaping

At home

Consider using fire-smart landscaping – get tips from the national Firewise program, such as:

  • Trimming low branches
  • Mowing the lawn regularly
  • Removing dead vegetation and brush

Use nonflammable landscaping materials and high-moisture content plants. Water plants, trees and mulch regularly. Create nonflammable fuel breaks like driveways and walkways in your yard to stop the spread of wildfire.

What's a clean fire?

Have you ever thought of what goes into a fire? Building fires with natural materials only like trees, brush or logs is important for protecting people and the environment. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Burning trash and hazardous materials is illegal in Michigan (Public Act 102 of 2012).
  • Burning items like plastic, foam, rubber, chemically treated wood and electronics releases cancer-causing chemicals into the air.
  • Ashes from burning inappropriate materials can contaminate soil and groundwater.
  • Dry, well-seasoned wood creates the least amount of airborne irritants.


Campfire ring image with text: Only wood belongs in a campfire
Smokey's campfire safety competition Video

Smokey's campfire safety competition

Do you know what it takes to make a safe campfire? Watch the one and only Smokey Bear rate three campfires to see who has the best wildfire-prevention technique.