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Summer Fire Prevention Safety Tips

A Message from Jewish National Fund

Burnt ForestsEvery summer, Americans see the damage from wildfires in woodlands, fields, forests and national parks. Usually these wildfires come in the summer, after prolonged periods of drought, and last until the fall, when the potential for fire increases dramatically.

Jewish National Fund (JNF) has gained an international reputation for its work with trees and forests during the past century. JNF foresters, who come to the U.S. each summer to take courses from the U.S. Forest Service, are responsible for fire prevention and safety in Israel's forests.

JNF foresters have contributed invaluable know-how and advice to U. S. foresters, particularly in managing fires in the pine and scrub oak forests of the American Southwest. For example, in Israel, controlled grazing in JNF forests limits the amount of brush and fuel available for fire. Learning from JNF’s experience, the U.S. Forest Service has worked with environmental groups during the past few years to properly thin forests.

When wildfires raged last summer, “thinned areas survived as viable forest habitats, while unthinned areas looked like scorched moonscapes,” said Chris Risbrudt, director of Forest Products Laboratory, a division of the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Forest Service has identified four factors contribute to the extent and intensity of forest fires: abundance of fuel, weather, lack of moisture and terrain.

"We take Israel's depth of experience and apply it to our situation," said Tom Hoekstra, Director of Inventory and Monitoring Institute of the U.S. Forest Service. "Their experience in handling forest fire situations in arid environments has been of tremendous benefit."

The devastating effects of the fire season are felt by the thousands of lost homes and the millions of acres of forests that were burned. In addition to destroying the forest itself, wildfires often spread to surrounding communities, ravaging private homes, businesses and property. In addition, the fires devastated wildlife habitats and ecosystems and degraded vital watersheds.

"With the expansion of urban areas into forested land combined with environmental changes, we will continue to see larger fires that cause more damage and threaten more lives," said Dale Bosworth, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "The world-class professionalism and determination of JNF foresters is second to none.”

JNF foresters advise residents to follow the fire prevention safety tips to keep themselves and their homes safe and avoid the risk of wildfires in woodlands, fields and parks. Be aware that periods of unusually low precipitation increase the likelihood of severe wildfires. If your region is experiencing a dry season, especially with high winds, exercise extra caution when in contact with any flammable materials.

Prepared by Sarina Roffé

Jewish National Fund Fire Prevention Tips

  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Consider installing automatic fire sprinklers.
  • Know at least two ways out of your ground level floor, preferably at opposite ends of the building, and out of each room on all levels.
  • Parking in tall grass or shrubs can start fires because the hot catalytic converter comes into contact with dry plant materials. Don't park where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle. Motorcycles and ATVs should have spark arresters.
  • All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) produce an enormous amount of heat and can ignite brush from their exhaust systems. Don't park your car, truck, or recreational vehicle on dry grass or brush even for a minute. The exhaust system on a vehicle can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees. It only takes 500 degrees to start a wildfire in the fire season.
  • Clear and maintain a fire break around your home by clearing the fuel that a fire needs. Clear weeds, dry brush and trees within a 50-100 foot buffer zone. In case of fire, this will allow the heat to dissipate before it reaches the building as well as eliminating fuel for the fire. This space can also provide a safe area for firefighters and their equipment, should they be needed.
  • Mow grasses to a height of less than 6 inches within 50 feet of the home
  • Remove ladder fuels, young trees and shrubs planted close to larger trees that could carry a ground fire into the tops of large trees. Cut all branches below six feet from the ground to prevent fires from spreading into the tree tops. Remove all tree limbs within 10 feet of your chimney or stove pipe.

Camping Tips

  • Find out about fire conditions before you go camping or visit an area and strictly observe any restrictions that may be in effect. In many areas, all wood and charcoal fires may be prohibited, but gas or propane camp stoves are allowed. Other areas allow campfires only in established campgrounds with fire grills or pits.
  • Before building a campfire, prepare the area by removing all leaves, twigs and other flammable material within ten feet of your campfire. Use only fallen wood.
  • Use an established fire pit or make a ring of rocks at least ten feet from trees, shrubs, structures and debris.
  • Pour water on the fire and douse the site thoroughly. Stir water and dirt into the coals with a shovel or stick until there are no embers and the ashes are cold to the touch. Make sure the fire is "dead out" before you leave.
  • Fireworks are not allowed anywhere on National and State Forests, National Park and on other public lands.


Jewish National Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to serve as caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners—Jewish people everywhere.  During the first half of the 20th century, JNF set out to achieve its goal by purchasing the land that would become the State of Israel.  Following the successful establishment of the state in 1948, the organization has evolved to meet Israel's most pressing needs, including the current security crisis, ongoing water shortage and other environmental challenges.  Over the past century, the organization has planted over 240 million trees, built over 150 reservoirs and dams, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 450 parks and educated students around the world about Israel and the environment.  For more information on JNF or to plant trees in Israel, call 1-800-542-TREE (8733) or visit  To contact your local office, please call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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