Forest Protection

The Division of Forests and Lands, through the Forest Protection Bureau, is responsible for protecting over 4.5 million acres of both public and private forestlands from the threat of wildland fire and crimes against the forest resource.

The Forest Protection Bureau patrols the forests of New Hampshire inspecting timber harvests to ensure compliance with the Timber Harvesting Laws, as well as detecting and responding to wildfires.

Forest Rangers maintain the Forest Protection Bureau presence on a district level. They are responsible for patrolling the woodlands of New Hampshire and searching for crimes against the forest resources. They enforce laws concerning timber harvesting, outdoor burning, and natural resource protection. As full-time certified law enforcement officers they apprehend and prosecute violators. As certified wildland firefighters they oversee wildfire preparedness, prevention, detection, suppression and cause determination throughout the state.

On average, New Hampshire experiences about 250 wildland fires each year, which burn approximately 250 acres. Another 200-300 illegal fires occur each year that are extinguished before they turn into a wildland fire. Wildland fire control is achieved through prevention, training, early detection, careful pre-planning, hazard mitigation, and suppression.

Protection from woodland fires is accomplished through a system of Forest Rangers, forest fire lookout towers, aerial surveillance, cadre of appointed forest fire wardens, mobile patrols, enforcement of fire protection laws, participation in the Northeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Commission, and the training and aiding of local fire departments and wardens.

There are more than 2,300 Forest Fire Wardens, Deputy Wardens, Issuing Agents and Special Deputy Wardens appointed by the New Hampshire State Forester – who is also that director of the Division of Forests and Lands – to serve under the authority of law to protect New Hampshire woodlands from fire. The Warden is the representative of the State Forester who issues fire permits, enforces forest fire laws, and maintains firefighting tools and equipment at the ready. Wardens also work with the Division's Forest Rangers to determine fire causes and take necessary steps to prevent recurrence.

Deputy Forest Fire Wardens are appointed to assist the Wardens. Deputy Wardens are located in a community to provide leadership to a local forest fire organization in fire prevention, preparedness and suppression. On small fires, Deputies are trained fire fighters; on larger fires, they may become a squad boss in charge of a small group of fire fighters or a crew boss in charge of several squads. At any time, through emergency or designation, a Deputy Warden may be required to act temporarily as Warden.

The Special Deputy Forest Fire Warden is a forest fire specialist who serves as a member of a local firefighting team or special staff. The Special Deputy Warden may be called upon to perform certain specialized functions or carry out the duties of the Forest Fire Warden or Deputy Warden in their absence. The Special Deputy Warden is an expert in one or more specialized forest fire control functions, such as fire pump operation and maintenance, scouting and map making, radio communications, supply, or fire headquarters operation.