Be aware of fire bans and the risk of fire
Always be careful with fire in the forest or fields, regardless of whether you are using a camping stove, portable barbecue or fireplace. Be particularly cautious during the summer when conditions outside are dry. It can be a punishable offence to cause a wildfire.
Keep the following in mind before you light a fire:
1. Never light a fire if there is a fire ban
A fire ban can be imposed if the fire risk is high in a particular area. A fire ban means that it is forbidden to light a fire or barbecue in the forest or open countryside. You will find information about the current fire bans on the websites of the municipality or county administrative board. In popular natural areas (walking trails, beaches), there may be information on signposts and billboards about whether fire bans are in place. You can also call the local rescue services with questions about fire bans or fire risks. Remember that you have a personal responsibility to find out whether a fire ban is in place. Acting in violation of a fire ban can result in a fine.
2. Find out about the risk of fire
Even if no fire ban has been imposed, the fire risk may still be high. This means you should be particularly cautious with fire. Check the risk of fire with help of SMHI fire risk forecast or the app Brandrisk Ute (Fire Danger Outdoors). If you are uncertain about the risk of fire, you should contact your local emergency services for further information.
3. Lighting a fire in a safe place
Before considering lighting a fire in the forest, you should think about the following.
- Choose a place where the fire cannot spread to materials such as trees, bushes or grass. The subsurface should ideally consist of gravel or sand.
- Arrange stones or soil around the fire to stop it from spreading.
- If you want to prepare food, use a camping stove. It is usually safer than using an open fire.
- Do not light a fire in strong wind. Sparks may rapidly cause large wildfires.
- Always have water at hand to extinguish the fire.
- Before you leave a fire, extinguish thoroughly with water and stir it around to cool down the embers. Dig up the ground beneath the ash until there are no embers left and pour plenty of water onto the remnants of the fire and all around it.
4. If the fire spreads – always call 112
If you have lit a fire and the fire spreads, you must alert evergency number 112. Then try to stop the fire in the wind direction. You can use twigs from small trees to brush burning material towards the fire. If possible, soak the twigs with water before you start.
Fires can cause major devastation if not handled correctly. The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) grants no automatic right to light a fire. A fire is your personal responsibility and should only be lit in safe conditions. In this work you will find things to consider when lighting a campfire or barbecue outdoors.
- Lighting Fires and the Right of Public Access - Things to consider when lighting a campfire or barbecue outdoors, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), (pdf)
Forest fires can occur due to burning, felling, sparks from trains or lightning strikes, to name a few. In the event of prolonged dry spell, a small ignition can quickly develop into a large fire.
In the summer of 2018, Gävleborg, Jämtland and Dalarna counties were affected by large, difficult-to-extinguish forest fires. Several towns had to be evacuated and a large number of authorities, rescue personnel and volunteers worked intensively for several weeks to get the fires under control. Sweden also enlisted the help of international resources in the form of firefighting aircraft, helicopters and ground staff.
Grass fires can spread very quickly and be difficult to extinguish. In spring, there is an increased risk of fire in last year's old, dry grass.
The risk of fire is particularly high in the afternoon when the grass is dry. When the wind blows, a fire can spread rapidly. Rapid weather changes can quickly change the risk of a grass fire and local variations in fire risk can be great.
Important Public Announcement (IPA)
If a wildfire threatens human life, health, property, or the environment, the head of rescue operations may warn the public by issuing an Important Public Announcement (IPA). Read more about Important Public Announcements here.
After a forest fire
Walking in the forest after a fire can be extremely hazardous. There may be a risk of falling trees, and there may be pits with embers of peat or wood. After a fire, it can take months for the forest to become safe for walking again.