Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Carey Ruppert -
Chief, Skidaway Division

As Smokey Bear Says, Only You Can Prevent Wildland Fires! 

Last year, I wrote an article discussing how hot weather and the accompanying dry conditions increase the risk of fire. Much like last year, although we have had brief periods of rain, vegetation is very dry throughout Chatham County, and there has been an increase in brush or wildland fires. Numerous studies have found that 90 percent of wildland fires are started by humans. The goal of this article is to help you help us reduce the number of those fires. 

Since most of us grew up listening to Smokey Bear, we have a basic understanding of what is required for a fire to develop -- oxygen, fuel, and heat. In the outdoors, we have little control over the availability of oxygen or fuel. Oxygen is a significant part of our atmosphere, and fuel is abundant with dead plants, dry leaves, and dry grass. The easiest way we can stop wildland fires is to remove man-made heat sources. Below are some ways that we can remove possible heat sources. 

Mind Your Butts - When asked how to prevent wildfires, most people immediately will say that you should never throw a lit cigarette or cigar butt on the ground or out of a vehicle. Yet they still do it. Even on Skidaway Island, we have had a number of fires caused by someone carelessly tossing a cigarette or cigar butt. Make sure your cigarettes and cigars are completely extinguished, and dispose of them properly. 

Mind Your Grills (or Fire Pits) - Ensure your grills and fire pits are situated away from any structure and are on a fireproof surface. Never overfill them with fuel, and never leave them unattended. Ensure your gas grill is turned off and the gas is secured after use. The fires in charcoal grills and fire pits should be completely extinguished after every use. (Editor’s Note: Please remember, fireplaces that affect the exterior appearance of a home or property, as well as exterior fire pits, rings, masonry grills, and associated integral seating, require approval by The Landings Association’s Architectural Review Committee. For more information, please email 

Mind Your Vehicles - Try to avoid driving through dry grass or brush in a hot car, and never park your vehicle on dry grass, leaves, or pine straw. The exhaust systems on modern vehicles can reach temperatures in excess of 500°F and easily can ignite any fuel in close proximity. 

Mind Your Mower - Never add gasoline to a hot lawn mower or edger, as the fumes can be ignited by a hot muffler. Always add fuel and oil to your equipment before you start mowing, or stop, turn it off, and allow it to cool. Also, never leave a hot lawn mower idling over dry vegetation. 

Mind Your Lighting - Improperly installed and non-maintained landscape lighting can ignite dry vegetation or debris. Ensure that plants and bushes don’t overgrow your landscape lights, and periodically clear away dry leaves and pine straw. Have plastic or glass covers installed on your lights to protect fixtures and bulbs. Consider installing LED lights, which are energy efficient and produce less heat while illuminated. 

I remind everyone that burning of yard waste, whether leaves or brush, is not allowed within the confines of The Landings. If we are called to a situation where yard waste is being burned, we will ask the homeowner to extinguish the fire. We are happy to help extinguish the fire if needed.

Enjoy your summer, and please watch out for one another. If you see something, say something. Saving a life is much more important than having someone angry with you for getting involved. As a parent myself, I would be grateful if someone helped my child in a time of need.

Thank you for your continued support of the Skidaway Island First Responders. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and have a great summer!

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit to read the original article.