Daily Fire Danger

The Daily Fire Danger gives people an idea of how likely wildfires are to ignite and how severely they will burn once ignited. Checking the Daily Fire Danger before doing any outside burning is very important.

The Forest Protection Bureau posts the Daily Fire Notification classification each weekday morning. The weekend classification, for both Saturday and Sunday, is posted Friday afternoon.

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You can check current classification at our X account.

The daily fire danger rating may also be obtained by calling the Division of Forests & Lands’ wildfire information line (toll free): 1-866-NH-FIRES (866-643-4737).

Understanding Fire Danger

Fire Danger is a description of the combination of both constant and variable factors that affect the initiation, spread, and difficulty to control a wildfire within a specific area. There are many systems and models that attempt to provide accurate and reliable predictions of fire danger. Typically, the effects of fuel conditions, topography, and weather conditions are analyzed and integrated into a set of numbers that fire managers can use to meet their needs.

National Fire Danger Rating System

Many Federal and State agencies use the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) to input data and receive information used to determine the fire danger in their area. Based on the fire danger, managers may impose restrictions or closures to public lands, plan for or pre-position staff and equipment to fight new fires, and decide whether to suppress or allow fires to burn under prescribed conditions.

Since 1974, five rating levels have been used to describe danger levels in public information releases and fire prevention signage:

  1. Low (Green) – Fire starts are unlikely. Weather and fuel conditions will lead to slow fire spread, low intensity and relatively easy control with light mop-up. Controlled burns can usually be executed with reasonable safety.
  2. Moderate (Blue) – Some wildfires may be expected. Expect moderate flame length and rate of spread. Control is usually not difficult and light to moderate mop-up can be expected. Although controlled burning can be done without creating a hazard, routine caution should be taken.
  3. High (Yellow) – Wildfires are likely. Fires in heavy, continuous fuel such as mature grassland, weed fields and forest litter, will be difficult to control under windy conditions. Control through direct attack may be difficult but possible and mop-up will be required. Outdoor burning should be restricted to early morning and late evening hours.
  4. Very High (Orange)– Fires start easily from all causes and may spread faster than suppression resources can travel. Flame lengths will be long with high intensity, making control very difficult. Both suppression and mop-up will require an extended and very thorough effort. Outdoor burning is not recommended.
  5. Extreme (Red) – Fires will start and spread rapidly. Every fire start has the potential to become large. Expect extreme, erratic fire behavior. No outdoor burning should take place in areas with extreme fire danger.

A Red Flag Warning (also known as a Fire Weather Warning) is a forecast warning issued by the United States National Weather Service to inform firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are conducive to the ignition and rapid spread of wildland fires. During drought conditions, or when humidity is very low, and especially when there are high or erratic winds, the Red Flag Warning becomes a critical statement for firefighting agencies. These agencies often alter their staffing and equipment resources dramatically to accommodate the forecast risk. Outdoor burning bans may also be issued by State and local fire agencies based on Red Flag Warning. To the public, a Red Flag Warning means high fire danger with increased probability of a quickly spreading vegetation fire in the area within 24 hours.

A separate but less imminent forecast is a Fire Weather Watch, which is issued to alert fire and land management agencies to the possibility that Red Flag conditions may exist beyond the first forecast period (12 hours). The watch is issued generally 12 to 48 hours in advance of the expected conditions, but can be issued up to 72 hours in advance if the National Weather Service Field Office is reasonably confident. The term "Fire Weather Watch" is headlined in the routine forecast and issued as a product. That watch then remains in effect until it expires, canceled, or upgraded to a Red Flag Warning.

The weather criteria for Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings vary with each Weather Service Field Office's warning area based on the local vegetation, topography, and availability of water sources for fire suppression operations. The expected afternoon high temperature, afternoon minimum relative humidity, and daytime wind speed, and forecasted precipitation are usually included in the daily Fire Weather Forecast.

Forest Protection graphic showing the daily fire danger is low-level 1
Forest Protection graphic showing the daily fire danger is moderate-level 2
Forest Protection graphic showing the daily fire danger is high-level 3
Forest Protection graphic showing the daily fire danger is very high-level 4
Forest Protection graphic showing the daily fire danger is extreme-level 5