Department of Environmental Protection

New Jersey Forest Fire Service

NJ Forest Fire Service Logo

Title 13

The Department of Environmental Protection shall maintain a forest fire service for the protection of forests, and property adjacent thereto, wherever the department shall determine the necessity therefor.

Under the General Forest Fire Act the Department of Environmental Protection may:

  1. Determine wildfire hazards.
  2. Remove or cause to be removed brush, undergrowth or other material which contributes to wildfire hazards.
  3. Maintain or cause to be maintained fire breaks.
  4. Set backfires, plow lands, close roads and make regulations for burning brush.
  5. Summon any male person between the ages of eighteen and fifty, who may be within the jurisdiction of the state, to assist in extinguishing fires.
  6. Require the use of property needed for extinguishing fires.
  7. Issue permits.
  8. Collect extinguishment cost and fines for violations.
  9. Control and direct all persons and apparatus engaged in extinguishing wildfires.
  10. Have the right of entry upon lands to inspect and ascertain compliance and extinguish wildfires.
  11. Investigate fires to determine cause.
  12. Close the woods to all unauthorized persons in an emergency.
  13. Arrest without warrant anyone violating the Forest Fire Laws.

  1. The Forest Fire Service may assess and collect amounts equal to the cost of extinguishment or a lesser amount as determined by mitigating circumstances.
  2. For a non-willful violation of Forest Fire Law the Service may assess a fine up to $5,000.
  3. For a willful violation of Forest Fire Law the Service may assess a fine up to $100,000.

  1. Setting fire to any forest, brush or grass land, or tidal marsh except as exempted.
  2. Setting fire to brush, litter or debris without the written permission of a firewarden.
  3. Having any fire by which property may be endangered without maintaining a careful and competent watch.
  4. Interfering with a firewarden or his/her crew in carrying out their duties.
  5. Refusing assistance or the use of property to a firewarden engaged in fire fighting operations.
  6. Mutilation or destruction to any state forest fire sign.
  7. Maintaining a hazard that will contribute to the origin and spread of a wildfire.
  8. Discharging an incendiary device, operating hazardous equipment or throwing/dropping incendiary objects.

  1. An owner may set a backfire on his own property for its protection, provided it does not escape to the property of another.
  2. A written permit is necessary for any fire in any municipality for which firewardens have been appointed.
  3. Open burning is regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection, Air & Environmental Quality Enforcement Section. This program is administered by the Forest Fire Service statewide through use of a permit system.
  4. Permits issued by the Forest Fire Service do not supersede restrictions by local agencies or the Air & Environmental Quality Enforcement Section.