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Fires

The territory of Tuscany is covered by forests for more than 50%. It is therefore clear that the issue of fighting fires is of great importance for the whole community and then for the institutions involved with their work in the preservation of the natural environment.

With the Forest Law 39/2000 of Tuscany and the subsequent Regulations, the Tuscany Region has taken steps to adapt its wood fire legislation to the state legislation. These two tools define the periods, the areas at risk and the preventive actions necessary to reduce or limit the risk of fire.

If you sight a wood fire call immediately one of the following numbers:
800 425 425 S.O.U.P. (Sala Operativa Unificata Permanente della Regione Toscana: Tuscany's permanent unique operative office)
1515 State Forestry Corps
115 State Fireman Corps

Wood fires legislation
L.R. 39/2000 Forest Law of Tuscany
D.P.G.R. 48/R 08/08/2003
Forest Regulations of Tuscany and its subsequent amendments introduced
with D.P.G.R. 32/R del 16/03/10

A particular attention is focused on prohibitions and preventive prescriptions, such as the ban on lighting fires in wooded areas and in the neighboring ones which, if breached, result in very heavy penalties. Important constraints are also reported which aim at preventing actions of arson for interests of various kinds: for example, in the burned areas the suitability for building and grazing is forbidden for 10 years.

In case of burning of crop residues or lighting of fires in wooded areas or in close proximity, it is important to know some essential elements to prevent fires getting out of hand:

  1. The periods at risk in which particular attention must be paid;
  2. The areas at risk which are subjected to prevention regulations;
  3. The actions at risk which can provoke the lighting of forest fires and are therefore forbidden or allowed only if special precautions are taken.

Periods at risk
The fire-risk period is the one between July 1 and August 31.
The Provinces may alter this period or establish different periods at risk also for areas which are homogeneous for their vegetation peculiarities.

The areas at risk are made up of:

  • woods and shrubs;
  • wood arboriculture systems;
  • the strip of land adjacent to these areas of a width of:
    200 metres during fire-risk periods;     
    50 metres during the remaining period of the year.

The same rules of prevention provided for the wood and the strip of 200 meters adjacent to the wood are also applied to wood arboriculture systems: for example, poplar woods or walnut groves or other forest species as defined by legislation.

Actions at risk
In the areas at risk the following actions which can provoke fires are forbidden:

  • the burning of plant residues;
  • the lighting of fires and charcoal kilns;
  • the use of open-flame tools or equipment that can produce sparks;
  • the drift or outdoors storage of hay, straw or other easily flammable materials.

Burning of plant residues

  • In the woods, shrubs and wood arboriculture systems:
    • the burning of material derived from utilizations and cultivation operations is subject to authorization by the Province or the territorial association in the specific mountain region covering the territory. The permit will indicate the standards of prevention to be followed and the precautions to be observed. It is anyway forbidden to make burnings during periods at risk.
  •     In the fruit chestnuts:
    • it is allowed for materials deriving from their pruning and cleaning during periods at risk. The burning may take place only between sunrise and nine in the morning.
  •     In the strips of land adjacent to forest areas and similar:
    • it is not allowed in periods at risk, in an area of ​​200 metres adjacent to the woods.
    • it is allowed during periods not at risk, in a strip of 50 metres adjacent to the woods and similar areas as long as it is executed in compliance with the standards of precaution for the lighting of fires.

Lighting of fires

  • general rules to be always observed
    • see the box "Standards of precaution for the lighting of fires".
  • for personal needs
    • In the woods the lighting of fires is allowed for personal needs, only during periods not at risk, following the precautions provided by the Forest Regulations and as far as it is necessary for heating or cooking. In accordance with the precautions mentioned below, it is also always allowed the lighting of charcoal kilns as well as the use of fire in the braziers, barbecues or other fixed structures in the equipped areas which are authorized for that purpose. In any case of lighting of fires the following precautions must always be observed:
      • use cleaned up spaces, isolated from flammable materials and far from piles of dry vegetation;
      • take precautions to prevent the spread of fire and sparks toward the spontaneous or cultivated vegetation, considering its combustibility and the wind weather conditions;
      • make a constant monitoring of the fire until it is completely extinguished;
      • in equipped areas don't light fires outside braziers, barbecues and fixed structures of the areas;
      • comply with the prescriptions and precautions specifically listed for the use of equipped areas.          

Use of open- flame tools or equipments that can produce sparks
  • In the forests and other areas at risk the use of devices generating open flame, as well as of tools or equipments which may produce sparks, is allowed only during periods that are not defined at risk.
    The devices must be used in areas devoid of vegetation and other flammable materials, keeping a constant control of the area involved and setting up garrisons or suitable tools for the immediate extinguishing of a possible fire. In periods at risk it is allowed in the appurtenant areas of the buildings within 20 metres from these. Attention! In periods at risk the mountain associations and the Provinces, for the territories under their own jurisdiction, may provide rules for preventive notification of burnings execution. The Provinces may prohibit all burning of plant residues.

Drift or outdoor storage of hay, straw or other flammable materials

  • in agricultural lands, meadows and meadows-pastures: it is allowed for the plant material deriving from mowing, only for the time required for haymaking and harvesting operations;
  • in the woods and wood arboriculture systems: only the drift of debris derived from forest cuts is allowed, in accordance with the Forest Regulations;
  • in lands of any destination: the outdoor drift of the timber is allowed as well as of the debris deriving from pruning operations of fruit or ornamental trees;
  • in woodlands: the storage of plant material resulting from mowing operations and other agricultural activities is allowed, as long as the material is neatly stored and around it a strip of at least five metres is maintained cleared of vegetation;
  • In the other areas: the lighting of fires and the burning of plant residues is allowed, taking the necessary precautions to prevent the uncontrolled spread of fire, in particular:
    • Everything must be kept under constant control, leaving the area only after making sure of the complete extinguishing of fire, making sure the embers or coals are completely off before leaving;
    • it must not be carried out in case of strong wind;
    • for cereals stubbles, or other materials not concentrated in piles, in the absence of appropriate barriers to prevent the spread of fire, an insulation zone must be created, minimum 5 meters wide, consisting of tilled soil, or at least devoid of vegetation and which can isolate the area object of the burning.
       
During the periods at risk the burning must be carried out only between sunrise and ten in the morning.

Constraints
The Regional Law establishes specific constraints about the use of lands crossed by fire.

  • no grazing in the woods for ten years;
  • no hunting activities in the woods for 5 years (in case of an area of more than 1 hectare affected by fire and in the presence of a schedule);
  • ban for 15 years of transformation of the forest, and pastures within 50 metres, into other crop qualities;
  • ban for 10 years of construction of buildings or structures for civil settlements or production activities in the woods and pastures within 50 metres.

Burning the crop residues
The burning of crop residues are allowed on the following conditions:

  • that the operations regard only the lignocellulosic residues deriving from forest cuttings, cultural practices, phytosanitary, pruning, cleaning or other agricultural and forestry operations;
  • that the release, shredding, burning are made within 250 metres from the production place of lignocellulosic material;
  • that the shredded material and the ashes are reused in the crop cycle as fertilizing substances through distribution, and the thickness of the material distributed does not exceed 15 cm in the case of shredding and 5 cm in the case of ashes. The formation of piles is permitted for the time necessary to re-use.

The forest fire laws indicating the prescription and sanction for failure to comply with it, explored below, must also be observed.

General prevention rules AIB
In the case of burning of crop residues, there are two prescriptions of the Forest Fire Regulations of Tuscany which are valid all the year round, regardless of the period at risk and the distance from the forest or of wood arboriculture systems:

  1. it is strictly forbidden to light fires in the presence of strong wind.
    Sanction: 240.00 € in the period at risk (120,00 € for other periods);
  2. The burning must be kept under constant control, leaving the area only after making sure of the complete extinguishing.
    Sanction: 240.00 € in the period at risk (120,00 € for other periods).


The burning of crop residues deriving from pruning and/or forestry operations within the forests, shrubs and arboriculture systems is strictly forbidden during the periods at risk and subject to authorization during periods not at risk. Sanction: 240.00 € in the period at risk (€ 120.00 in the other periods). In the periods at risk, in the woods and shrubs of areas classified at particularly high risk (as indicated below) the sanction is € 2066.00.

AIB rules valid in the periods at risk
The burnings of crop residues are not permitted during periods of fire risk in areas far 200 metres from the forest, from shrubs and wood arboriculture systems. Sanction: € 240.00.

The burnings in areas far more than 200 metres from the forest, from shrubs and wood arboriculture systems are allowed from sunrise until 10 a.m.. Sanction: € 240.00.

In fruit chestnuts the burnings of crop residues deriving from cleaning/pruning are allowed on condition to be executed:

  • from sunrise to 9:00 am;
  • in empty spaces and cleared of vegetation;
  • gathering the material in small piles.


Sanction in case of failure to comply with any of the above prescriptions: € 240.00.

The Provinces should retain the power to prohibit both the burnings in the area beyond 200 meters, both those inside the fruit chestnuts.

AIB rules valid in the periods not at risk
The burnings in an area far 50 metres from the forest, from shrubs and wood arboriculture systems and the burning of crop residues deriving from cleaning of fruit chestnuts are allowed provided they are made:

  • in empty spaces and cleared of vegetation;
  • gathering the material in small piles.

Sanction in case of failure to comply with any of the above prescriptions: € 120,00.
For burnings in an area beyond 50 metres from the wood, shrubs and wood arboriculture systems, the general rules are valid. Sanction: € 120,00.


PDF Region Tuscany - Brochure on fire prevention (2,6Mb)
PDF Region Tuscany - Brochure burning prevention (2,73Mb)