Outside the House

Grand Rapids is a "Fire-Wise" Community. Click to Visit the Wisconsin DNR's Firewise Website. Make sure to view the Wildfire Protection Tactics video while there!

A new video has just been released that gives a Wisconsin perspective on protecting homes in areas prone to wildfire. “Wildfire in Wisconsin: Would Your Home Survive?” tells the story of George Voyles, a homeowner who followed Firewise recommendations when he moved to his rural home in Adams County. When his property received a direct hit by the 3400-acre Cottonville Fire in 2005, his home survived with only minimal damage thanks to some simple steps he took ahead of time to protect his property.

Now is the time to take care of "Spring Fire Maintenance". The best time to protect your home from the threat of a wild fire is well before it happens. See the list of 50 Thing You Can Do below to get a number of ideas that can increase your protection factor. A number of these ideas cost very little if anything, and some only require a small investment of time to complete. As was proven in the Cottonville fire back in 2005, some homes were able to survive because home owners had created a green space around thier homes. This enabled homes to survive the fire without any additional help from local fire departments.

Download the Spring 2012 DNR Wild Fire Newsletter

  • 50 Things You Can Do: A list of 50 items you can do that will help protect your home and increase its' chances of survival during a wild fire.
  • Firewise Wisconsin: A brochure detailing how you can incorporate fire safety ideas during home construction and landscaping.
  • Grand Rapids Burning Ordinance: Local Ordinance regarding burning in the Town of Grand Rapids.
  • Wisconsin Forest Fire Laws: A brochure detailing Wisconsin's State-Level Forest Fire laws, as well as information on burning permits and burn barrels.

The Towns of Grand Rapids and Saratoga are in the DNR's Intensive Fire Protection Area, and the Town of Grant is in the DNR's Extensive Fire Protection Area. These areas have been identified by the DNR as special target areas that are heavily forested and pose a special hazard for forest fires. As a result, fire suppression resources are strategically placed in these areas to help protect against the threat of wild fires.

Before you burn, we encourage you to to explore alternative options, including home composting, hauling your material to the Wisconsin Rapids compost site, and mulching leaves and grass clippings. Be aware that burning permits only allow the following:

  • Grass areas less than 1 acre
  • Brush piles less than 6ft. x 6ft. in size
  • Covered burn barrels

Any burning in excess of this must be approved by special permit through the local DNR Ranger Station.

The following conditions must also be met when burning with a permit:

  • Check the Current Fire Danger Level. This indicates the wild fire behavior and risks.
  • Burning is allowed from 6:00 p.m. to midnight Monday though Saturday.
  • No burning allowed on Sunday or legal holidays.
  • You must follow all restrictions on both sides of your written and signed permit.
  • You must have your written and signed burning permit available while burning and follow all restrictions listed on both sides of the permit.
  • You must check after 9:00 a.m. on the day you wish to burn for any new restrictions that have been enacted since the permit was written

View State-Wide Fire Danger Levels.
Visit the Wisconsin DNR Forest Fire Home Page.
Information courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Outside of the House

House Numbers are Visible From the Street

Make sure that your house number can be seen from the street. This ensures that both the fire department and medical personnel can find your house quickly and easily.

The Town of Grand Rapids offers reflective house numbers for no charge to town residents. Contact the town office for more information.

Branches and Firewood are Away From the House

Branches should be cleared away from the chimney area. Firewood should be stored at least 30 feet away from the house.

Grills and Other Cookers are Used and Stored Safely

When using grills or smokers, they should be used on a non-flammable surface and at least 10 feet away from a house or combustible deck or patio.

Dispose of Ashes Properly

Place ashes in a metal pail and add water while stirring to ensure they are completely out. A good guideline to follow is that if you are afraid to feel the ashes for heat, then they're not extinguished yet. This same method should be used on campfires.

Check the Clearance Around Your Driveway

Fire department vehicles are much wider and taller than a normal passenger car. To allow quick access for fire trucks, make sure that your driveway has 12 feet of horizontal clearance and a minimum of 15 feet of vertical clearance.


Information on this page was, in part, collected from the NFPAUSFA, and the CDC