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Red flags for fire weather conditions

Know the difference......
NWS Red Flag Warning vs. FFS Red Flag Fire Alert

National Weather Service
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warnings:

The Red Flag Warning is designed to provide land management agencies warning of potentially hazardous fire weather conditions that are imminent or already occurring.
A Fire Weather Watch is designed to alert those agencies to possible red flag conditions in the future.

The National Weather Service does not make any management decisions as a result of the watch or warning. Specific actions are determined by user agencies.

A red flag warning is issued based on the most hazardous weather associated with the largest ten percent of fires.
The following weather conditions will prompt the issuance of a red flag warning:

  • Relative humidity is predicted to fall below 35% for four hours or more.
  • Relative humidity is predicted to fall below 35% for any duration with a wind speed predicted at 15 MPH or greater.
  • Relative humidity is predicted to fall below 35% for any duration with a dispersion predicted at 75 or greater. (Dispersion is a measure of atmospheric stability. The higher the dispersion, the less stable the atmosphere.) 

An NWS red flag fire warning does not prohibit outdoor recreational or cooking fires or the burning of yard debris. However, it is recommended that outdoor burning be conducted using extreme caution as the potential for starting and/or rapidly spreading fire is high. 

A red flag warning can be confirmed at the National Weather Service website.

Red flag fire alert 

A red flag fire alert is issued by the Florida Forest Service (FFS) when weather conditions along with the division's knowledge of local and state fire conditions indicate a strong potential for hazardous wildland fire conditions.  The FFS is the only state agency to initiate a red flag fire alert.

When a red flag fire alert has been issued, Volusia County Fire Services fire stations and all Florida Forest Service facilities will fly a red flag.  

Burn ban 

Volusia County Fire Services will issue a burn ban when conditions warrant. A burn ban issued by Volusia County Fire Services covers its entire jurisdiction, including unincorporated Volusia County and the municipalities of Lake Helen, Oak Hill and Pierson. A burn ban is usually issued during times of prolonged drought and is not based on short term weather conditions. A burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning not contained within a grill and disregarding the ban is punishable according to a local county ordinance. Status of a burn ban can be viewed here

Outdoor burning 

While some municipalities within Volusia County do not allow outdoor burning outside of a grill at anytime, some do allow outdoor burning outside of a grill with a permit or authorization from the corresponding municipality. Please check with the appropriate municipality to determine its burning regulations. 

When there is not a burn ban in place in unincorporated Volusia County - including the municipalities of Lake Helen, Oak Hill and Pierson - burning of yard debris (it is illegal to burn household paper goods and trash) must meet the regulations set forth in state statute. Additional information on these regulations can be found here (pdf file) and on the Florida Forest Service website

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