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Fire prevention

Reducing wildfire risk 

When it comes to wildland fire, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s actually worth a lot more than that, according to the US Forest Service, which estimates that every dollar spent on wildfire prevention saves $35 in suppression costs and wildfire-related losses.
That’s why the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s wildfire prevention and mitigation staff canvasses the state sharing the importance of fire safety and prevention not only about outdoor burning, but also as it concerns the wildland-urban interface (WUI, pronounced WOO-EE).
While the Commission’s wildfire prevention efforts stretch from the mountains to the coast, our fire prevention officers place extra emphasis, resources and time on historically high-fire-occurrence areas throughout the state. Our wildfire prevention efforts are focused around the following goals:

  • informing the public of safe debris burning practices to reduce the number of escaped debris fires
  • emphasizing to property owners their responsibility in protecting their property to reduce potential losses from wildland fire

To those ends, our fire prevention staff launches a statewide wildfire prevention awareness effort prior to every winter/spring wildfire season to promote safe debris burning, the state’s number one cause of wildfires. They also conduct interviews with media, create and share public service announcements, and organize burn demos to illustrate the proper way to conduct safe outdoor burns.


Think before you burn

The Forestry Commission centers its wildfire prevention messaging around the slogan “Think before you burn,” which is a simple set of rules that everyone should follow when doing any kind of outdoor burning. Those rules are:

  • Check the weather before you burn (avoid burning on days with high wind speeds and gusts and/or on days with lower-than-usual relative humidities, ie. <30%)
  • Notify the Forestry Commission before you begin your burn. Call the toll-free notification phone number for the county you live in to make notification. This rule applies only in unincorporated areas of the state (outside of city/town limits), and burners must make notification every unique day they burn.
  • Clear a firebreak around the material being burned that is relative to the size of the fire (at least half of the width of the burn pile itself). Firebreaks should be constructed by removing all vegetation and exposing the bare ground or mineral soil.
  • Have proper and sufficient tools and water on hand to prevent the fire from spreading if it does happen to escape the firebreak.
  • Stay with the fire at all times, never leaving the burn site for any amount of time or for any reason.
  • Extinguish the fire completely, drowning it with water until the burned material and ashes are cool to the touch.

Download the “Think Before You Burn” brochure in English.
Download the “Think Before You Burn” brochure en Español.


The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)

Another area of emphasis for the Commission’s wildfire prevention team is what’s known as the wildland-urban interface (WUI, pronounced WOO-EE). The wildland-urban interface is defined as any area where homes and other development meet what was previously “wild land,” and there is a surprisingly large number of people in South Carolina who make their homes in this danger zone. Booming growth in our coastal communities and expansive urban sprawl in the state’s other metropolitan areas create more WUI land in South Carolina every year.

WUI fire
The wildland-urban interface is the area where homes and previously “wild land” meet, and there is a surprisingly large number of people in South Carolina who make their homes in this danger zone.

Although headline news stories tend to feature wildfires threatening homes in California and other hot spots in the western United States, the wildland-urban interface (WUI) problem they describe is not exclusively a western phenomenon. The wildland-urban interface is the area where homes and previously “wild land” meet, and there is a surprisingly large number of people in South Carolina who make their homes in this danger zone. Learn more about the wildland-urban interface and how you and your community can take advantage of our wildfire prevention tools and expertise to protect your homes, property and lives.

Living With Fire (pdf) How to make your home wildfire resistant.
Wildfire Risk Reduction Checklist for Your Home (pdf) A Checklist to Protect Your Home.
Ignition-resistant Landscaping Plant List  (pdf)- Landscaping for your home.
Ready, Set, Go! – (opens in a new window)
Fire Adapted Communities – (opens in a new window)


South Carolina’s Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and Prevention Newsletter

WUI cleanup day

This newsletter highlights the wildfire risk and prevention efforts associated to that risk in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) of South Carolina. It also focuses on our nationally recognized Firewise USA™​ communities and their transformation as they continuously work to reduce their risk from wildfire. This newsletter will also highlight wildfire prevention tips and upcoming events associated with our WUI prevention program.

Our WUI Team hopes this newsletter is shared with all of our community leaders as well as other South Carolina residents to showcase the program and hopefully encourage new communities to contact us about improving their communities. We hope you enjoy the newsletter and please share it with your neighbors as we all work together to reduce the wildfire risk across South Carolina. 

Below are the community newsletters listed by date with the latest listed first:

2022 2nd Edition – May 2022

2022 1st Edition – January 2022
2021 4th Quarter –October 2021
2021 3rd Quarter – July 2021
2021 2nd Quarter -April 2021
2021 1st Quarter -January 2021

Fire prevention poster collection

Staff

You can contact our staff for more information:

  1. Drake Carroll: State Firewise and Prevention Coordinator for the following counties: Horry, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Florence, Marion and Dillon.
    dcarroll@scfc.gov | (843) 601-9121
  2. Chris Revels: Piedmont Field Coordinator for the following counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, and York.
    crevels@scfc.gov | (803) 360-8264
  3. Andy Johnson: Coastal Field Coordinator for the following counties: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg, and Williamsburg.
    ajohnson@scfc.gov | (843) 509-4611