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Alaska Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (AWFCG)

The Alaska Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (AWFCG) consists of State, Federal, and Native land management agencies/owners with fire management responsibilities for the lands they manage and/or own. A commitment by AWFCG led to the development of this "wildland fire smoke education" web page where the AWFCG public service announcements, posters, and flyers could be easily obtained by daycare providers, elderly care providers, school officials, and the general public. The Department of Environmental Conservation sponsors this site.

Wildland fire smoke is "particulate matter," a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in air. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, or even your bloodstream. A particle 2.5 microns in diameter is approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair. Wildland fire smoke particles are usually smaller than 0.5 microns in diameter. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Particles larger than 10 micrometers are of less concern, although they can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.

From the Environmental Protection Agency: If you are healthy, you are usually not at a major risk from short-term exposures to smoke. Still, it's a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it.

How to Protect Your Family from the Health Effects of Smoke

  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and stay alert to any news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.
  • Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it's probably not a good time to mow the lawn or go for a run. And it's probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.
  • If you are advised to stay indoors, take steps to keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep your windows and doors closed - unless it's extremely hot outside.
  • For further information about wildland fire smoke, see DEC webpage: Wildfire Smoke-Particulate Matter Information.

Help Protect Your Home and Community from the Threat of Wildland Fire

During a major interface fire there are going to be far more homes needing protection than there are fire department resources to protect them. If you want your home to survive a major fire incident, you must take action to make your home defend-able.