Fire Education Hub
Hipcamp is the most comprehensive guide to getting outside, from public parks to private land. We partner with landowners who want to open up access to their properties and with outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for new places to stay, camp, and get outside. Hipcampers can discover and book tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Let's work together to keep our lands, communities, and firefighters safe.
Fire Education at Hipcamp
Hipcamp’s core value as an organization is “leave it better” and we expect our community of Hosts and Hipcampers to be thoughtful neighbors, responsible citizens, and environmental stewards. Education plays a crucial role in empowering the Hipcamp Community to “leave it better.”
Hipcamp prioritizes partnering with industry leaders and subject matter experts to educate our community about fire safety. We do extensive research to inform our internal and external policies, and employ a variety of tools to ensure we are keeping our Hosts, Hipcampers, and the communities they interact with safe.
Consider this webpage your guide to fire education at Hipcamp - from the tools Hipcamp makes available to the best practices shared by fire experts, it’s all here. Many thanks to the team of fire scientists and professionals in the United States and Australia who have made this resource possible, supporting our educational training and contributing to the content you see here. Current collaborators include:
- Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Fire Advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension
- Ken Pimlott, Former Director of CALFIRE
- Erika Lind, Fuel Management Planner at Forest Fire Management Victoria, Australia
- Yana Valachovic, County Director and Forest Advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension
- Eamon Engber, Research Associate at Redwood National Park & Humboldt State University
- Don Hankins, Professor of Geography and Planning at CSU Chico and Field Director for the CSU Chico Ecological Reserves
- Veronica Stork, Hipcamp Host and Founder and Executive Director of Wildfarmers
There’s a lot of information here, we know! Here are our top 5 tips for recreating and hosting responsibly. Thank you for doing your part to practice fire safety!
- Check local fire restrictions and communicate with your Host ahead of your stay to confirm you understand their rules.
- Choose a safe location! Use the fire pit if there is one there already and if there isn’t one, please ask your Hipcamp Host before making your own.
- Clear a minimum of ten feet around your campfire (no tents, chairs, hammocks, brush, etc.) and make sure there isn’t anything hanging above your fire that might catch.
- Have a responsible adult in attendance.
- Extinguish your fire completely with water. Remember: if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
- Check local fire restrictions regularly and keep your listing up to date.
- Set up a designated fire pit in an open area away from overhanging branches and at least ten feet away from anything flammable (trees, brush, glamping tent, etc.)
- Consult your fire department to ensure your fire pit is safe and set up following local best practices.
- Consider selling local firewood to ensure your Hipcampers “burn it where they buy it.”
- Provide a bucket of water and a shovel for Hipcampers to ensure they have the tools they need to extinguish fires safely and completely.
I’ve been working in fire management since 1984 and am glad to be working with Hipcamp to support fire safety for their Hosts and Hipcampers. As the former director of CAL Fire — one of the largest fire departments in the world — I know first hand how critical it is that private businesses provide education on fire management and mitigation, and Hipcamp is stepping up as a leader in this space.
I’m proud to have partnered with Hipcamp to educate their community about fire safety. I’ve been impressed with the commitment to best practices and current information, both by the Hipcamp staff as well as by the landowners and campers who use Hipcamp. They are going out of their way to educate and empower their community, and to ensure fire safety at their host sites. With the ever-increasing threat of wildfire, this kind of leadership and education is essential.
- Ken Pimlott, former Director of CAL Fire
- Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Fire Advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension
Tools and training
The fire ban tool
Hosts, if your county, province, municipality, or council has an active fire ban, or if you would like to temporarily not allow fires on your property for any other reason, you can toggle on a fire ban for your entire property with the click of a button from the homepage of your Host Dashboard here. The ban will be in effect across all of the listings at that property and emails will automatically be sent to Hipcampers with upcoming bookings to let them know that fires are no longer allowed. An email will also be sent to those Hipcampers already at your property if you turn on a fire ban for any of the dates of their trip. We’ll email you when the ban is about to expire so you can enable it again if you need to.
Hipcampers, When a Host has turned on the fire ban tool, you’ll receive a series of communications letting you know which fires, if any, are currently allowed on site. No fires means no fireworks either! Thank you for partnering with us to keep our communities, lands, and firefighters safe.
Hipcamp fire safety alerts powered by the National Weather Service
Hipcamp has integrated with the National Weather Service to provide Hipcamp Hosts in the United States with an alert should the conditions warrant them enforcing a fire ban. We pull data from the National Weather Service (NWS) API that relates to real-time fire weather watch alerts and red flag warnings. We send this information to Hosts who have properties in the affected areas and urge them to take action to keep their communities and Hipcampers save by utilizing the fire ban tool and enforcing a fire ban on their property.
Fire Safety Trainings
Hipcamp prioritizes educating all of our Hosts and Hipcampers about fire safety. We have developed extensive resources to educate and remind Hosts about how to set up their properties for safe campfires, when campfires are permissible and advisable. We also regularly communicate with our Hipcampers about how to build, manage, and safely extinguish their next campfire, including a fire safety quiz in all reservation confirmations as well as in reminder emails.
In May, Hipcamp partnered with the University of California Cooperative Extension and Northern California Prescribed Fire Council to run a four-part webinar series educating Hosts and Hipcampers from around the world about safe fire practices ahead of peak wildfire season in the United States. This virtual event covered topics from fire ecology and cultural fire practices to prescription fire and home hardening, and discussed what it takes to build a safe campfire, how to create an emergency evacuation plan, and much more. You can learn more about the webinar and watch the recorded sessions here.
Resources in the Hipcamp Journal
The Hipcamp Journal is a fantastic resource for the Hipcamp Community. Articles in the journal range from community spotlights highlighting Hosts and Hipcampers to guides on how to build an a-frame and a safe fire pit on your property. Here are a few journal articles that highlight campfire best practices and how to set your property up for safe campfires:
Fire safety is about more than just campfires!
Fire safety goes far beyond how to set up a safe fire pit and fully extinguish a campfire. It’s important to learn where to look for fire restrictions so you can confirm conditions at your destination, to take air quality into consideration during your outdoor stays, and to recognize high risk behavior like parking your car on dry grass or flicking a cigarette.
Do your research: fire restrictions and air quality
Preparing for the possibility of a wildfire or a bushfire when recreating outdoors is an important and essential part of planning your Hipcamping trip or other outdoor adventure. Here are a few resources to help you plan a trip in an area that might be impacted by fires or poor air quality.
Plan ahead and prepare
Do your research: Human beings and lightning strikes are the most common causes of wildfires, making them hard to predict. Check fire conditions in the area you’re traveling to, and consider a trip (or a backup trip option) in a place where the fire risk is low. Resources to check before heading out include the weather forecast, local fire agencies (California’s CalFire, for example), and websites like Purple Air with information on air quality. If you’re traveling in an area that is prone to wildfires, be sure to leave a detailed trip plan with family and friends so they can let authorities know if you’re in the backcountry when a fire breaks out.
Have a backup plan
Remember, no destination is worth your health and safety and everytime you take a risk outdoors you put firefighters and first responders at risk as well. When arranging an outdoor adventure, it’s prudent to plan a backup trip in an alternative location in case a wildfire breaks out or the air quality is unhealthy.
Burn it where you buy it
When you bring firewood with you, you risk bringing tree killing insects or diseases as well. This means carrying firewood with you from home or from your last trip to the place where you’re camping could put your favorite Hipcamp, park, or forest in danger. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re recreating responsibly:
Buy or gather firewood where you plan on burning it!
Make sure your firewood comes from within 50 miles, ideally within 10 miles, of where you plan to burn it. Many Hipcamp Hosts and public campgrounds sell local, safe firewood on site!
Leave any remaining local or gathered firewood at your campsite. Don’t bring it with you.
Be fire conscious even when you don’t have a campfire!
Many people only think of lightning strikes or campfires when they think about wildfires and bushfires, but wildfire prevention goes far beyond. Here are a few tips shared by fire safety experts and scientists that will help you recreate responsibly and exercise best practices:
Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, or wildland area that surrounds it. This buffer is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and will help protect buildings from catching fire from either embers, flames, or radiant heat. You can think about defensible space in the context of where you build your campfire as well as how you landscape around your home.
Parking on dry vegetation can pose a fire danger! Be mindful of where you park your vehicle especially if conditions are particularly hot and dry.
Smoldering discarded cigarettes are one of the most common causes of human-started wildfires. This may feel like an obvious one, but if it’s not safe to have a fire it’s also not safe to smoke!
Lawn mowers can cause fires when the conditions are hot and the grass is dry. There was one day in the summer of 2021 when Cal Fire responded to multiple fires that were started by people mowing their lawns in risky conditions! They recommend always mowing before 10:00am and never when it’s windy or excessively dry outside.
Glass can ignite dry leaves or grass. Don’t discard bottles or broken glass, always be careful to pack out what you bring in, and stay attentive to the conditions you’re recreating in!
Emergency Preparedness for Hipcamp Hosts
If you’re interested in hosting Hipcampers on your property but have questions about how best to set yourself and your guests up for a safe experience, we’re here to help! In addition to setting up safe designated fire pits, adhering to local regulations and fire bans, and educating your Hipcampers on what it means to be “fire safe” on your land, there are a few other prevention and preparedness best practices to consider before you accept your first booking. Many thanks to Ken Pimlott for putting these recommendations together!
- Develop an emergency response plan. We recommend having procedures in place for various emergency situations that may occur on your property, including but not limited to wildfires. Consider establishing relationships with your local fire district, state and federal forest agencies, and law enforcement, and encourage an onsite visit with local first responders so they are familiar with your property ahead of time. You can also share information about your property with emergency services and with your Hipcampers - a map of your road system, water sources (ponds, for example), buildings, and potential hazards (power lines, for instance) could all come in handy in the event of an onsite or nearby fire.
- Make your property easy to find. To ensure folks are able to find your property in the event of an emergency, make sure your address and/or property name is marked and clearly visible from a main road. Consider reflective signs so your property is easy to find in dark or otherwise challenging conditions!
- Keep your property accessible. You’ll want people to be able to get to you and your Hipcampers should something happen, so keep your road maintained and if you have a locked gate consider providing your gate code to emergency services.
- Tell your Hipcampers! Brief guests on who they should contact in the event of an emergency and what the response plan is on your property. This information can be included in your written communications with them or posted somewhere on site.
- Plan ahead. Monitor weather conditions to ensure you’re able to educate your Hipcampers on what fire safety best practices are during their stay. Consider closing your Hipcamp if the fire risk is high and/or accessing or leaving your property could become unsafe.
- Safety comes first! Don’t hesitate to evacuate your property or close your Hipcamp if the conditions are unsafe. Let's work together to keep each other safe!
Fire safety and resiliency
We are excited to be building out this resource for the Hipcamp Community! Below you'll find additional information on fire resiliency in California and across the United States. Check back soon to learn more about fire resiliency in Australia and Canada - and let us know if there's something specific you'd like to see added here!
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