Fire Restriction Stages Explained

Fire Danger & Management | Fire Restriction Stages Explained


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Fire Restrictions come in different stages and become more prohibitive with each stage. Most forests begin by implementing a Stage I Restriction and if conditions worsen, Stage II is implemented.There is no"Stage III" when conditions worsen further. Instead, a forest closure is usually the next step which means the public is not allowed to enter the boundaries of the national forest due to the danger.


Stage I Restrictions


Stage I fire restrictions flyer

What is Prohibited:

What is Allowed:

  • Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, or heating devices providing such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specification for safety.
  • Shooting firearms IS allowed. Just make sure to follow normal federal rules: No shooting within a 150 yards of a campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area,residence or building. No shooting across a road, trail or body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge. No shooting in a cave.
  • Chainsaw use IS allowed. However, please use caution and keep from creating sparks by not cutting directly on the ground where the chain can contact rocks while rotating.
Stage I Fire Restrictions Youtube ThumbnailCheck out the YouTube video explanation of Stage I Restrictions!





Stage II Restrictions

What is Prohibited:

  • No fires, campfires, charcoal, coal, and wood stoves. (except using a device that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off in areas that are barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device).
  • No smoking (except within an enclosed vehicle or building).
  • No using an explosive.
    Flyer for Stage II Fire Restrictions
  • No possessing, discharging, or using any type of firework by pyrotechnic device. Fireworks are always prohibited.
  • No operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine from the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except generators with an approved spark arresting device within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator).
  • No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.
  • No operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order (this does not include motor vehicles. This is aimed at things such as landscaping tools).
  • No discharging firearms, air rifles, or gas guns (except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal or tribal laws and regulations).
  • No possessing or using a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads. Vehicles must stay on open Forest Roads and cannot drive/park over any vegetation at any time.

What is Allowed:

  • Common generators with working spark arresting device may be operated between 8 p.m. and 11 a.m., as long as you have cleared flammable material at least 3 feet around it or it is enclosed in your vehicle (such as the rear portion of an RV).
  • Liquid petroleum or LPG fueled stoves, grills, lanterns, or heating devices as long as you have:
    • Cleared flammable material at least 3 feet around it.
    • It is placed in an area that has no overhead flammable materials.
    • All it is doing is producing flame and can immediately be turned off and there is no element continuing to burn after it has been turned off.




Some important points as to why we implement fire restrictions

  • The number one reason is to protect human life, property and our natural resources. The smallest spark can turn our dry forest into a dangerous wildfire that can threaten lives and property.
  • We use certain criteria to determine what stage of fire restrictions to implement, which includes current and predicted weather,how many resources we have available to fight fires, fuel moisture in the forest, fire behavior and containment challenges, as well as several others. Additional details, protocols and processes are available.
  • Regardless of what level of fire restrictions we implement, not all fires can be prevented. Fires start from careless forest users, lightning, and inadvertent human-causes.We live in a fire-adapted ecosystem which depends on fire for its health, so it's never a question of if a wildfire will start, but when and how we will be able to respond to it.




The Law and Penalties

Arizona Collateral Schedule Field Guide (36 CFR 261, Subpart A) This field guide outlines prohibitions and penalties for violations of those prohibitions. Section 261.52 covers the penalties for violating specific prohibitions when Forest Order fire restrictions are in place.

See Forest Orders to check if current fire restrictions are in effect or contact one of our offices for information.




Additional Resources and Information

Coconino National Forest Information


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