Forest fire warning

When a forest fire warning is in force, it is forbidden to start an open fire in or near a forest.

There are three different level of forest fire warnings (yellow, orange and red) and one in grass fire warnings (yellow). They all refer in law to the same thing, that it is forbidden to start open fire. Probability for large and quickly progressive forest fires increase, when it is orange or red warning.

A forest fire warning is usually given and cancelled midnight at 00. The warnings are specific to each province. Municipality-specific warnings may also be given in Northern Ostrobothnia (mainly for Kuusamo, Taivalkoski and Pudasjärvi) and in Lapland.

Forest fire warnings are issued using an index calculated by means of a model that describes moisture conditions in the top soil layer measuring about 6 centimetres in thickness. The input data for the model includes precipitation and air temperature.

Read more about the forest fire index. Most often, the first forest fire warnings of the year are issued in early May. The forest fire warning season ends in September or at the latest in early October.

The risk of grass fires exists in spring

If necessary, warnings for grass fires are issued in March–May. The previous year's dry grass is exposed from under melting snow in spring and may catch fire even if trees do not yet ignite easily. Grass fire warnings are issued no longer once the growing season has got off to a good start.

Controlled silvicultural burning of field.
Photo: Tuomo Bergman.

Precautions during a forest fire warning

When a forest fire warning is in force, it is forbidden to kindle an open fire in or near a forest.

According to current legislation, the authorities need not be notified in advance when burning, e.g. garden waste. The burning must not cause any harm or damage to neighbours. It is not allowed to make an open fire without landowners permission.

Municipal environment boards have issued municipal regulations and guidelines for burning garden waste. For instance, some municipalities have imposed a total ban on burning twigs. Controlled silvicultural burning of forest always requires the permission of the duty officer at the regional rescue department.

Read more, what is open fire, Rescue services.