Fire precaution level for woods workers lowered

OKANOGAN COUNTY – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) is decreasing in parts of Okanogan County.

The IFPL in Zone 678W is moving from a Level II to a Level I, effective 12:01 a.m., Friday, Sept. 3. This fire precaution level will allow those operating equipment, including chainsaws, in the woods to work more hours of the day.

The IFPL in Zone 684 remains at Level II. These restrictions limit most forest industrial activities to between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. only.

Those using chainsaws in the forest, including cutting firewood, must follow certain rules:

-Chainsaws must have approved, working exhaust systems.

-A one-hour fire watch must follow the last use of a chainsaw.

-A fire extinguisher, containing at least eight ounces of retardant, must be in the immediate vicinity of where the chainsaw is being used.

-A shovel must be retrievable in two minutes or less.

In an effort to reduce preventable wildfires, DNR issued a statewide burn law covering all DNR-protected lands, effective July 15 through Sept. 30. The ban includes all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands. During the ban, designated campgrounds may allow campfires in approved fire pits. DNR or the campground may put additional restrictions in place, including a ban on campfires, depending on weather conditions.

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands in Washington. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.