Governor Ron DeSantis today is joining CFO and State Fire Marshall Jimmy Patronis, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, and Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Jared Moskowitz in urging Florida residents and visitors to practice fire safety as dangerous fire conditions are possible throughout Florida this summer.
“Especially as we near the Fourth of July holiday and families plan summer festivities, it is imperative that all Floridians practice good fire safety tips and make a plan to protect their families and homes,” said Governor DeSantis. “Every family must also be prepared for the threat of wildfires. Hurricanes in recent years have left serious amounts of debris across our state and we must all remain vigilant to protect our communities.”
“Fire hazards in Florida are real, and we must work together to protect our communities from fire-related tragedies. Always remember to practice caution when grilling as you celebrate summer holidays like the Fourth of July,” said CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis. “As temperatures increase, it is also important to understand the dangers associated with our state’s elevated wildfire risk due to down timber from recent hurricanes. Being mindful of our state’s fire risks will help ensure you and your family have a safe summer.”
“With parts of our state having faced a wildfire threat ten times greater than normal from Hurricane Michael’s fallen timber, I encourage all Floridians to maintain vigilance and follow directives from state agencies like the Florida Forest Service,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “From July 4th fireworks and summertime cookouts to routine yard debris burns, everyone’s actions play a role in keeping Floridians safe from fires that can quickly spread.”
“Floridians throughout the state should remain vigilant around fire,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “With the Fourth of July right around the corner, I urge everyone statewide to use caution when handling flammable materials, follow fire safety tips throughout this summer and year-round, and please pay attention to any burn bans that may be in effect in your region.”
All Floridians are encouraged to practice fire safety and to have a plan for their homes and businesses to prevent potentially hazardous wildfires. Here are some tips for creating a disaster plan in case of a fire emergency.
- Post your local fire department’s phone number in a visible place in your home.
- If you must evacuate, decide where you will go and how you will get there. Unlike in a hurricane evacuation, you may only have a moment’s notice.
- Have two escape routes mapped out: one out of your home and one out of your neighborhood.
- Have tools available and accessible, including a shovel, rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, and a 2-gallon bucket.
- Maintain an adequate water source.
- Have a plan for your pets.
- Practice family fire drills.
Look out for the following warnings and know what they mean when issued. You can find active fire weather outlooks through the National Weather Service HERE.
- Red Flag Warning: Very favorable conditions exist for the spread of wildfires, use extreme caution when handling flammable materials and open flames because if a wildfire develops it will spread rapidly.
- Fire Weather Watch: Conditions are expected to become favorable for rapid wildfire growth, look out for red flag warnings in later forecasts.
- Fire Danger Statement: The potential exists for wildfires to develop and spread but are not severe enough for a Red Flag warning to be issued.
Understand how you can help mitigate fire risk in around your home through the Firewise program. This program encourages homeowners to reduce wildfire threat around their homes with prevention measures, including:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks.
- Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
- Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger.
- Replace or repair shingles and roof tiles that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
- Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
- Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
- Learn more about how to protect your home and property at firewise.org.
The three leading causes of wildfires are arson, uncontrolled yard debris or trash fires, and lightning. Along with Firewise prevention measures, officials urge residents to follow these guidelines set by the Division of Forestry:
- Burning yard waste does not require an authorization from the Division of Forestry, but you should check with your local city and county officials to see if there are any restrictions in your area.
- Your fire must be contained to an eight-foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel and must be at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from your house, 50 feet from a paved public road, and 150 feet from other occupied buildings.
- Don’t burn on windy days or when humidity is below 30 percent.
- Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave.
During the Fourth of July and other holidays, practice fire safety when using fireworks, and gas or charcoal grills:
- Make sure the use of any fireworks is supervised by an adult.
- Always have fireworks directed in the air and not pointed at the ground, trees or other people.
- When using fireworks, make sure to have a water source or fire extinguisher nearby.
- Avoid setting off large groups of fireworks simultaneously as this can start a fire.
- Keep your grill outside and at least 10 feet away from any structures, including siding, deck rails and eaves.
- Clean your grill regularly. Cleaning removes grease that can start a fire.
- Check for propane leaks on gas grills by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and then turning on the gas. If there is a leak, the solution will bubble.
- Never leave a grill unattended while in use.
- When using a grill, make sure you have a water source or a fire extinguisher nearby.
To learn more about current wildfire conditions in Florida, visit FloridaDisaster.org/Hazards/Wildfire. To make a disaster plan for wildfires and any disaster, please visit: FloridaDisaster.org/GetAPlan.