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Wildfire

Prevent Wildfires

o   Stay abreast of wildfire danger levels and heed warnings and bans on outdoor burning in your area.

o   Remember, from October 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire in Tennessee within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry.

o   Local jurisdictions may have other ordinances and permitting systems in place for open-air burning.

o   Avoid burning on windy, dry days. When conditions are windy or dry, it is easy for open burning to spread out of control.

o   Closely supervise all outdoor fires. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving.

o   Have an adult present at all times when a bonfire, chiminea, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace is burning.

o   A grill should be placed well away from buildings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. If using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

o   Avoid throwing lit cigarettes out of vehicles. This type of litter can quickly start grass fires that can lead to dangerous traffic situations, such as low visibility and congestion.

o   Never park a vehicle over a pile of leaves.  The heat from the vehicle's catalytic converter or exhaust system could ignite the leaves below. 

o   Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.

o   In the unfortunate event that a fire does get out of control, call 911 immediately and wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local fire department.


Prepare for Wildfires

o   Know your community’s evacuation plans and find several ways to leave the area.

o   Drive evacuation routes and find shelter locations.

o   Have a plan for pets and livestock.

o   If your community has a warning system, sign up for it.

o   Include N95 respirator masks in your emergency supplies to filter out particles in the air. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.

o   Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air.

o   Keep important documents in a fireproof, safe place.

During a Wildfire

o   Evacuate immediately when authorities tell you to do so.

o   If trapped by a wildfire, call 911 and give your location, but be aware emergency response could be delayed or impossible.

o   Monitor local broadcasts for information and instructions.

o   Use an N95 mask to keep harmful particles out of the air you breathe.

o   If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, stay inside a safe location or go to a community building where smoke levels are lower.


After a Wildfire

o   Follow the instructions of authorities as to when it is safe to return home and whether water is safe to drink.

o   Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers.

o   Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends.

o   Wear a NIOSH certified respirator dust mask and wet debris down to minimize dust particles.

o   Document property damage with photographs.  Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.

o   Wildfires change the landscape and can increase the risk of flooding from heavy rains.

Related Resources

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
Patrick C. Sheehan, Director

3041 Sidco Dr.
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 741-0001
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