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South Carolina Wildfire Prevention

Wildfire Prevention efforts have been implemented in historically high fire occurrence areas throughout the state. The wildfire prevention efforts have set the following goals 1) to inform the public of safe debris burning practices to reduce the number of escaped debris fires and 2) to emphasize to property owners their responsibility in protecting their property to reduce the losses due to wildland fire.
The SCFC field personnel have accomplished these goals by implementing strategies which involved a coordinated effort with the local fire departments and by providing assistance to local areas as requested.
The slogan “Think Before You Burn” has been used to address the outdoor burning of debris by local citizens and has been used extensively on posters, brochures, flyers and signs in order to maintain consistency and familiarity with the fire prevention message.

THINK Before You Burn Brochure (pdf)

Debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires annually in South Carolina
Fiscal Year       Number Fires               Acres Burned               Percent of Total
2003-04           1,715                             9,872                                     50
2004-05           1,062                             5,206                                     47
2005-06           1,400                             7,604                                     46
2006-07           1,303                             5,884                                     44
2007-08           1,558                             8,613                                     42
2008-09              874                           23,469*                                   44

*includes 19,130 acres Highway 31 Wildfire in which 76 homes were destroyed.

 

In 2005-06, Wildfire Prevention Teams were deployed in historically high fire occurrence areas in each of the three regions. The teams had two objectives 1) to inform the public of safe debris burning practices to reduce the number of escaped debris fires and 2) to emphasize to property owners their responsibility in protecting their property to reduce the losses due to wildland fire. The teams accomplished these objectives by implementing strategies which involved coordinating with the local fire departments and providing assistance to local areas as requested and showing and promoting Firewise principles.

The Coastal Region’s team was located in Moncks Corner to address the fires around the Francis Marion NF and surrounding communities in Berkeley and Charleston Counties. The Pee Dee Region had their team in Kingstree to address those wildfires in the southern part of Williamsburg County and into Georgetown and Horry Counties. Earlier the Piedmont Region located their team in the mountain corridor of Oconee, Pickens and Greenville Counties with a short team staged out of Columbia to readdress the lower Lexington County area.

The slogan “Think Before You Burn” continued to be utilized in order to maintain consistency and familiarity with the fire prevention message. The slogan and logo were used exclusively in advertisements and printed on brochures, posters, and table tents. These items were distributed to local businesses, schools and various community leaders throughout the targeted areas. The Living with Fire multi-page newspaper insert was distributed (43,000) along with another 30,000 of the one-page insert Think Before You Strike. Traplines (routes in which prevention materials are distributed) were again used throughout the target areas. Over 110 businesses, 19 churches, 464 residences, a score of schools and media groups of all types (cable channels, newspapers, and radio and TV stations) were contacted with messages and articles.

 

In 2006-07, Wildfire Prevention Teams were implemented in historically high fire occurrence areas in each of the three regions. The teams had two objectives 1) to inform the public of safe debris burning practices to reduce the number of escaped debris fires and 2) to emphasize to property owners their responsibility in protecting their property to reduce the losses due to wildland fire. The teams accomplished these objectives by implementing strategies which involved coordinating with the local fire departments and providing assistance to local areas as requested and showing and promoting Firewise principles.

Five Prevention Teams visited over 300 locations/businesses on traplines located in five counties. Wildfire prevention materials were delivered to 14 schools where over 3,700 letters were distributed. A How to Have a Firewise Home workshop was conducted as well as presentations to 17 other groups – homeowners, planning committees, and fire chiefs. Yard debris demonstrations (3) and burn site inspections (121) were also conducted. Various wildfire prevention products (21,300+) which included door hangars, bracelets, notification magnets, cups, pencils, signs, and rain gauges were distributed at trapline locations and at several events. The Think Before You Burn slogan was promoted through the use of various printed materials (231,293) brochures (English and Spanish), newsletters, newspaper inserts, posters and stickers.

 

In 2007-08, a statewide wildfire prevention awareness effort was made across the state prior to the spring wildfire season of 2008 to promote safe debris burning. In cooperation with and assistance from local fire departments and other cooperators (i.e. state agencies such as DHEC), team members distributed "Think Before You Burn" promotional materials to over 1500 schools, businesses and public buildings. Spanish versions were also distributed in appropriate areas.

Demonstrations on how to burn yard debris carefully and properly were conducted for homeowners especially in communities at risk from wildfire or where debris burn escapes were a primary cause of wildfires in the area. Interviews were conducted with local media, public service announcements were distributed and billboards placed in areas to increase public awareness. Think Before you Burn caution-like signs were installed near fire departments, recycling centers and other highly visible locations in targeted high risk communities. Team members conducted burn site inspections for homeowners who were conducting debris burns.

Comparing FY07 with FY08 fire data the percentage of wildland fires caused by debris burn escapes declined from 44% to 42% statewide.

 

In 2008-09, a statewide wildfire prevention awareness effort was made across the state prior to the spring 2009 wildfire season to promote safe debris burning; the states number one cause of wildfires.  In cooperation with and assistance from local fire departments field personnel throughout the state distributed "Think Before You Burn" promotional materials to over 1,225 schools, businesses and public buildings.  Spanish versions of the Think Before You Burn (TBYB) brochure were also distributed in appropriate areas mainly in the Pee Dee region.  Also in the Pee Dee Region, 59,550 one-page newspaper inserts were distributed emphasizing the TBYB message.

Interviews were conducted with local media, public service announcements were distributed and billboards placed in areas where debris burns occur to increase public awareness.  Think Before you Burn posters were hung in country stores (261) and Think Before you Burn brochures were distributed throughout the state (53,315).  Caution-like TBYB signs were distributed to local fire department stations and outdoor burning notification magnets noting the appropriate phone number by county were distributed statewide.  Field personnel utilized trap lines in every county to distribute the TBYB materials especially to those communities situated in high-fire occurrence areas; communities at risk in the wildland urban interface.

 

In 2009-10, a statewide wildfire prevention awareness effort was made across the state prior to the spring 2010 wildfire season to promote safe debris burning; the states number one cause of wildfires.  In cooperation with and assistance from local fire departments field personnel throughout the state distributed "Think Before You Burn" promotional materials to over 1,049 schools, businesses and public buildings.  Spanish versions of the Think Before You Burn (TBYB) brochure were also distributed (740) in appropriate areas mainly in the Coastal region.  

Interviews were conducted with local media, public service announcements were distributed and burn demos conducted to show the proper way to conduct an outdoor yard debris burn.  Think Before you Burn posters were hung in country stores (570) and Think Before you Burn brochures were distributed throughout the state (47,644).  Outdoor burning notification magnets (3,594) noting the appropriate phone number by county were distributed statewide.  Field personnel utilized trap lines in every county to distribute the TBYB materials especially to those communities situated in high-fire occurrence areas; communities at risk in the wildland urban interface.

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