Saturday, February 16, 2008

Virginia Burn Restrictions

Not that we do a ton of burning in Fairfax County but I wanted to let you all know that the Virginia 4 p.m. burning law went into effect yesterday (February 15, 2008).

This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day (Feb. 15 – April 30) if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

Read the FAQs


  1. It is important to remember with the Red Flag alert in Virgina, there were fires in Fairfax County. So this is not a situation it cannot happen in my own backyard. Thank you Kathleen for those comments.

  2. I am surprised the law got passed (again) with nationally renowned hiking trails such as the AT and the Tuscarora passing right through Virginia. This law effectively bans the use of backpacking stoves to make hot meals and drinks before 4PM.

    Not to get too high up the pedestal on this one but there was a total fire ban in effect this past Summer and Fall due to a lack of rain fall. If the rain fall continues to be low then this will end up being a year long fire ban with brief windows for camp fire enjoyment in the back country.

  3. Pleasure or burning down the state. There were more fires in Virginia in the past few week compared to all of last year. This approach definitely minimizes the risk, so we as CERT do not need to respond because no fire in the first place.

  4. Notice the statistics on the VDOF web site ( bottom of that chart... that category showing a 1% cause..."CAMPFIRES". Per this new law, campfires and open burning are grouped in the same category.

    The up side to forest fires is that SMRG has been dispatched to Dinwiddie county at least 4 times over the past year to try and locate the body of a wayward hiker, maybe his remains will finally be found.

  5. I though of the post by anon last night and it lead to an exchange at a SMRG business meeting.

    The current trend in language is that you are not certified, you are credentialed.

    CERT is not credentialed in full scale fire suppression, it is very minor at best. The fire suppression tasks should be left to the folks that have specialized training and repeated training in those tasks... firefighters, fire jumpers, etc.

    Your CERT training is a perishable skill. If you don't keep attending classroom and field exercises then your skills get rusty and you lose critical portions of your training. How often do you practice fire suppression with a buddy system?

    Personally, I keep coming back to CERT training to learn new stuff and keep my existing skills sharp. SMRG's training calendar is publicly viewable ( It is quite jammed packed full of classroom and full weekend exercises and support events. I have been to every one of those classroom lectures at least twice and I attend just about every field ex because I am constantly learning and reinforcing my GSAR skills. Honestly, the classroom lectures are boring but the exchange of ideas during and afterward is where the true, real world, practical learning is. Think back to the debriefs at the end of each CERT class... that's the down and dirty, where the rubber meets the road lessons that can't be learned from a text book or just listening to a lecture.

  6. While GSAR might do great work, do you not agree they are pretty extreme.

  7. That depends on your perspective and your definition of extreme.

    Some people might say some GSAR teams are freaking nuts... as I type this ASRC is in alert status for a callout, my gear is packed and my Jeep is ready to roll if I am needed. Extreme... in weather like this and probably heading into rough areas of ice and large snow accumulation and on a purely volunteer basis... seems perfectly normal to me.

    Extreme would be some of the stuff SMRG did before I joined like going to Puerto Rico to manage GSAR operations and put teams in the field after a direct hurricane hit, Mexico after their crippling earthquakes and California. But we are all volunteers who make varying levels of commitments to GSAR. We have many who administratively support the group, attend only a few trainings if any and are quite content maintaining the basic CQ (Callout Qualified) status. Others are hungry to learn as many technical skills before age and physical ability relegates them to ICS which we nickname “Twinkies” (folks that spend more time in command positions than leading teams in the field… they tend to get soft). :-)

    SMRG's training looks extreme but it is all done in house to further the goal of producing multistate credentialed FTLs (Field Team Leaders). Part of the FLT requirement is leadership and leadership is learned and practiced by teaching classes and coaching during field exercises. It is a self prepetuating process of students teaching students.


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