Adjective ratings and color codes for broad fire-danger classes are useful for fire management and for informing the general public of fire danger. Standard descriptions and color codes follow (Please note that variations in the following may exist due to agency and/or unit policy.
1. LOW Fuels do not ignite readily from small firebrands, although a more intense *-heat-* source, such as lightning, may start many fires in duff or punky wood. Fires in open cured grassland may burn freely a few hours after rain, but woods fires spread slowly by creeping or smoldering, and burn in irregular fingers. There is little danger of spotting. The color code is green.
2. MODERATE Fires can start from most accidental causes, but with the exception of lightning fires in some areas, the number of starts is generally low. Fires in open-cured grassland will burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days. Woods fires spread slowly to moderately fast. The average fire is of moderate intensity, although heavy concentrations of fuel, especially draped fuel, may burn hot. Short-distance spotting may occur, but is not persistant. Fires are not likely to become serious, and control is relatively easy. The color code is blue.
3. HIGH All fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended brush and campfires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short distance spotting is common. High-intensity burning may develop on slopes, or in concentrations of fine fuel. Fires may become serious and their control difficult, unless they are hit hard and fast while small. The color code is yellow.
4. VERY HIGH Fires start easily from all causes, and immediately after ignition, spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. Spot fires are a constant danger. Fires burning in light fuels may quickly develop high-intensity characteristics; such as, long-distance spotting and fire whirlwinds, when they burn into heavier fuels. Direct attack at the head of such fires is rarely possible after they have been burning more than a few minutes. The color code is orange.
5. EXTREME Fires under extreme conditions start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. Development into high-intensity burning will usually be faster and occur from smaller fires than in the very high danger class (item 4). Direct attack is rarely possible, and may be dangerous, except immediately after ignition. Fires that develop headway in heavy slash or in conifer stands may be unmanageable while the extreme burning condition lasts. Under these conditions, the only effective and safe control action is on the flanks until the weather changes or the fuel supply lessens. The color code is red.
RED FLAG WARNING The criteria for a RED FLAG WARNING are as follows: sustained winds or frequent gusts greater than 15 mph, relative humidity less than or equal to 30 percent and 10-hour fuel moisture less than or equal to 15 percent. This is the set criteria however we also take into account how long the surface has been dry and the amount of available fuels.
OUTDOOR BURNING CONDITION DESCRIPTIONS: NORMAL - Normal precautions such as keep watch over your fire and keep a rake and a charged garden hose available for use in keeping your fire in place should suffice. CAUTION - Exercise all normal precautions plus additional caution will be necessary to ensure containment of your fire. Never turn your back on your fire for even a moment. Periodically wet the area around your fire with a spray from your garden hose.
EXTREME CAUTION - Exercise extreme caution. Open burning is strongly discouraged. If you burn, do so only in a receptacle such as a burn barrel and ensure you use a screen over it to limit sparks from escaping. As always, keep a rake and a charged garden hose at the ready and periodically wet the surrounding area with a spray from your garden hose. Don't burn as much at one time. If the fire seems to be getting too hot, you may want to dampen it with a light spray from the hose as well. Again, never turn your back on your fire for even a moment.
DO NOT BURN - Outdoor burning of any type should not even be attempted. Conditions are too dangerous to be able to burn safely under any circumstances. Fires can easily break containment no matter what precautions you take. Wait for another day.
REMEMBER - Your fire is your responsibility! If you have a fire that breaks containment and causes a wildfire, YOU will be held responsible for the full cost of extinguishing the fire. In addition, you may face civil and/or criminal charges. You are responsible for damage to other people's property as well as timber damage and other possible fines, costs, and fees. Most municipalities and developments regulate outdoor burning. Know you local ordinances and community rules before you burn. Some communities do not permit burning at all.