When I hear about wildfires, I automatically think of California and the large fires that have destroyed millions of acres of forests and property in the past years. While not usually as publicized, wildfires threaten almost every portion of the United States and pose a significant risk to life and property alike.

Due to current conditions in Florida, the state is warning residents of a growing potential for wildfires. The lack of rainfall over the past few months as well as the windy conditions and lower humidity in certain portions of the state have officials on alert for potential dangers.
Jim Karels (Director of the Florida Division of Forestry at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), issued the following warning about the potential threat for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend:

"The entire state of Florida is suffering from drought conditions and everyone should use extreme caution with any type of fire this weekend,” said Karels. “Under these current conditions, and without the proper resources, fires can get out of control quickly and may cause damage to property, homes and even lives."

Since January 1st of this year, 2,664 wildfires have burned 128,675 acres throughout Florida alone. This is more than double the amount of fires reported last year during this timeframe.

Associations should be aware of this threat and take the necessary precautions to ensure that Memorial Day celebrations do not lead to devastating effects. Currently, burn bans are in place for Baker, Citrus, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Marion (voluntary), Martin, Nassau, Osceola, Palm Beach (East), Putnam, Seminole, St. Lucie, and Volusia County. If you are not located in one of these regions, you should check with your local government for further prohibitions.

Even if you are not in an area that has an imposed burn ban, best practices for associations dictate that associations should ensure that plenty of security personnel are on hand to ensure that any fire, including grilling, is done safely and in locations that are permitted by the associations bylaws and the Florida Statutes.

Memorial Day is a great time to enjoy with family and friends, however, holidays such as this almost always lead to an increase in property losses and injuries. Make sure your employees are alert and informed so that everyone is safe while enjoying the holiday festivities.