Wildfire prevention and safety

Fire Danger and You

Whether it’s having a campfire, burning backyard brush, or ceremonial burning, fire is part of life and culture in the NWT.

But not all days are the best for having fires. That’s why we measure fire danger. It’s what you see on signs like the one up around the territory.

FIRE danger sign in the Northwest Territories

What is fire danger?

It’s a measure of how likely it is for wildfires to start, grow, spread, and challenge wildfire fighters if they need to fight the fire.

In the NWT, it is expressed using the terms Low, Moderate, High, Extreme.

Know it before you go

Knowing the fire danger before you go out on-the-land is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others safe.

When you know the fire danger, you can make good decisions about whether it’s a good idea to have a fire.

During wildfire season from May 1 through September 30, fire danger is updated every day by wildfire officials.

Find information about fire danger online:

What to do based on fire danger

Here’s some advice to follow based on fire danger levels in your area.

  • Low: Have campfires and burn with regular caution. Fires may still start easily, but it is less likely to grow and spread. 
  • Moderate: Take extra caution by keeping campfires and burn piles as small as possible. Fires may start more easily and have a higher chance of growing and spreading.
  • High: Do not have any fires unless it is necessary for food or warmth. Keep them as small as possible. Pay special attention to anything else nearby that embers from your fire could hit. Consider using contained flames, like propane stoves or barbecues, for your cooking needs. There may be fire restrictions in place because at high fire danger, there is a good chance fires will start easily, grow quickly, and challenge firefighters trying to fight them.
  • Extreme: Do not have campfires or burn things unless there is no other choice for food or warmth. Use contained flames like propane stoves or barbecues for food whenever possible. At extreme fire danger, forests are very dry and it is likely fire will start easily, spread quickly, and cause real challenges for firefighters when they need to be fought. Hunting, fireworks, campfires, or other burning may be restricted.

Check for fire bans

As fire danger grows, so does the chance of fire bans.

They may be put in place by community governments or by the GNWT. It is your responsibility to know whether there are fire bans in the area you are going. Not following them can lead to fines or charges.