Fire Safety Training Efforts Underway for Federal and State Land Stewards | News, Sports, Jobs

BEN DORGER Standard Examiner File Photo

A campsite with a ring of fire is seen Monday, June 15, 2020 at the Fort Buenaventura Park Campground in Ogden.

WEBER COUNTY — With Utah experiencing record-breaking drought conditions, reducing human-caused fires is a priority for the Bureau of Land Management and agency partners — a priority that is still simmering as the public has trouble understanding.

Federal agencies in Utah and the United States launched the Fire Sense campaign in 2021 to educate the public about wildfire prevention with videos, billboards, social media posts and other public awareness materials.

While their efforts have been called a success, with 900 fewer human-caused fires reported by the state of Utah in 2021, a U.S. Forest Service prevention technician in the Ogden Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest put out nine abandoned campfires on July 24, during Pioneer Day weekend.

Messages from the Fire Sense campaign included reminders to never leave a campfire unattended, never start a campfire in windy weather, keep a fire burning in a fireplace and make sure it is completely turned off before leaving.

Abandoned campfires are defined as unattended fires that are still hot in a ring of fire. Jennifer Hansen, fire education specialist at Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said the potential for abandoned campfires to escape into adjacent combustibles and cause a wildfire would be much greater without prevention technicians patrolling the districts.

“We urge the public to use their fire sense when visiting public lands and to do all they can to help prevent a wildfire,” said BLM West Acting Fire Management Officer Chris Deets. Desert District.

Campfire safety PSAs are broadcast at both Maverick gas stations and at the pump as part of a partnership between the BLM and Maverick.

According to Chuck Maggelet, President and Chief Adventure Guide at Maverick, 11 million transactions take place each month at Maverick stores and nearly 7 million more occur at the pump.

“We’re sure to reach millions of customers with our ‘Spark Safety, Not Wildfires’ messaging as (people) head out on their next adventure,” he said.

The BLM’s Western Desert District in Salt Lake City and the Color Country District based in Cedar City joined Utah and the Forest Service on July 18, moving into Stage 1 fire restrictions.

According to BLM West Desert District Public Affairs Specialist Hannah Lenkowski, fire restrictions are in effect in more than half of Utah’s counties.

Stage 1 fire restrictions allow open fires in public facilities established in campgrounds and improved picnic areas.

Lenkowski said all campfire gear should be cool to the touch before leaving, which can be accomplished by drowning the fire with water and a shovel to stir up the ashes. Although dirt and sand can replace water, she recommends visitors come prepared with a shovel, water, and a fire extinguisher.

Hansen said the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is constantly collecting data to track problem areas with regards to abandoned campfires. To date, approximately 55 such areas have been reported in the UWC.

“Collecting this data is invaluable,” Hansen said. “We can target our prevention activities and prioritize the needs of districts and forests.

In the event of a wildfire that has been determined by investigators to have been caused intentionally, maliciously or negligently, criminal or civil charges will be pursued along with suppression costs and possible damages.


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