Finland is covered by forests in large parts of its land and considered as one of the most densely forested countries in Europe. Therefore it's crucial to know the safety of forests, particularly forest fires.
Although Finland has done considerable efforts and has handled fighting forest fires pretty well, keeping these under control, we still need to be alert and know the safety rules. We must be constantly mindful and aware of our actions when in the forests and teach the whole family especially children about fire regulations and respecting the nature in general. Enjoying the outdoors comes with taking responsibility and this applies to everyone.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute informs the possible areas of forest fires. Potential forest fire warnings are also broadcasted in daily newspapers and television. It's important to adhere to the warnings before making an open-fire or metsäpalovaroitus.
Open fire- Avotuli
According to the Safety Act , a campfire is an open-fire. Single grills, lightweight, straight to the ground or even disposable grills are considered to be open fires. The general rule is fires that can spread from the ground or those that can cause sparking are open fires. Ground insulated grill, brick or stone fireplace, those that cannot be spread through the ground or due to sparking, are not considered as open fires.
Important points to take into consideration about safety and fire prevention
The open flame igniter is responsible for the fire and according to rescue law, the penalty is either paying for the fine or according to the damage incurred. Be careful, precocious and always ensure that provision and regulations for fire prevention are compiled before setting an open fire. Check with the park officer to make sure that having a campfire is safe. You also need the permission of the land owners before setting a fire.
The setting of the fire and its location must be in a safe area. It's recommended to keep some water, a shovel, and a fire-retardant close by. Check and keep the fire under control constantly. Ensure that there is no more smoke, crackling, or smoldering when extinguishing a fire and the coals should be cold enough.
Avoid open fire in windy conditions especially during long dry hot seasons. A spark of fire from a leaflet or a piece of wood is all it takes to cause severe damages. Flammable materials must not be near the burning area. Cigarettes and ashes should be put out before throwing them in the trash and never throw cigarette on the ground. Bring cigarette butts and other garbages with you and throw them to the proper bins.
Follow the local permissions related to burning fire. Each area may have its own restrictions and permits for burning twigs, leaves and logging scraps. There are important information provided for preventing fires given by the experts who know exactly about the level of fire risks at all times and the regulations provided are therefore appropriate.
Encountering a wildfire
According to Southwest Finland Emergency Services, there are about 1400 forest fires yearly and the burned area is about less than once hectare, which is in total about 1000 hectares of forest. The forest fires have declined significantly for decades due to the well-organized flight surveillances during the fire alert period and dense forest road network organized by the provincial government.
Alert emergency officials by calling 112 and provide as many details about the fire and location. Protect yourself by covering your mouth with a damp cloth and get yourself to safety. Create a fireline, suppress it with water or use natural barriers to slow the progress of fires.