Wildfire Safety

Important Information For Midland County Residents - Burn Permit Procedure

If you choose to burn leaves, brush or yard waste you must have a permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Midland County residents may receive a burning permit by visiting the Burn Permits link on the right side of this page.

There is no burning allowed in the Village of Sanford or within 1400 feet of the City of Midland. When fire danger is high no burning permits will be issued. Other inquiries to the MDNR can be made by calling (989) 687-7771.

The Wildfire Problem

Each year wildfires cause millions of dollars in direct and indirect losses. Three-quarters of wildfires are caused by people. Many fires are caused by careless residents and children playing with matches. Still more fires are caused by campers, hunters and anglers.

Fires in Michigan

In 1881 a Michigan wildfire burned 1 million acres and took 169 lives. As recently as May 1990, a fire near Grayling in north-central Michigan traveled 8 miles in a little over 4 hours, burning 5,916 acres and destroying 76 homes, 125 other buildings and 37 vehicles. Losses totaled over $5.5 million. The fire, commonly known as the Stephan Bridge Road Fire, was detected within minutes after it started. Even with early detection and fire crews close by it could not be stopped.

The Homeowner's Role

As a resident of a rural or forested area you play a key role in wildfire protection. You are responsible for protecting your buildings and property. Your role is key in areas of interface between where homes, businesses and open or forested lands come together.

Protect your property from wildfire

1.  Keep a buffer zone, or defensible space, around your home of at least 30 feet. This defensible space is created by clearing flammable materials away from your home and outbuildings. Defensible space not only helps protect your home in the critical minutes it takes a fire to pass, but it also gives firefighters an area to work in. During a large-scale fire when many homes are at risk, fire fighters must focus on homes they can safely defend. Make yours one of them!

2.  Landscape around your home with fire resistant material and plants. A green lawn or a rock garden are good fuel breaks. Stone, brick or masonry walls, free of vegetation, are good fire barriers. Ask your favorite home and garden center about which varieties of plants possess fire resistant traits that can be used in your home's landscaping. Some examples of fire resistant ground covers are: lily-of-the-valley, periwinkle, bugleweed, and Japanese spurge. Native bearberry and lilac are examples of fire resistant shrubbery.

3.  Trees within the 30 foot defensible space should have all branches removed up to a height of about 7 feet. Keep trees pruned, and space them so their crowns are at least 10 or more feet apart.

4.  Keep your grass well-watered and cut low, especially during times of high fire danger.

5.  Store items that could easily catch fire at least 30 feet away from any structure. These items include stacks of fire wood, brush piles, and other flammable materials.

6.  Keep your roof, rain gutters, and yard clear of pine needles, leaves and other yard debris. A single spark in dried materials like these can start a serious fire.

7.  Make sure your home is accessible to emergency vehicles. Your address should be easily identifiable from the road. Driveways should be wide enough for fire vehicles and clear of low, overhanging branches which could also impede access.

8.  Recycle your yard waste through mulching and composting. Don't burn it.

9.  Keep fire fighting equipment handy, including garden hoses and fire extinguishers. Have a family emergency plan and practice it.

10. Report fire immediately by calling 9-1-1.

Fire Management

Burn Permits

Wildfire Preparedness