Frequently Asked Questions
What are the rules for outdoor burning?
When a burn ban is not in effect, recreational fires, residential fires, and land clearing fires are permissible by the conditions listed below. Before doing any burning, you should call the Whatcom County Burn Ban hotline at 360-676-6934 for information about current burn ban status. Remember: just because it rained all day yesterday, doesn't mean you can burn today. Also note that any fire that has become a nuisance (causes respiratory issues for others, causes excessive smoke, etc.) may be asked to be extinguished, even when following the rules.

A recreational fire is three feet in diameter and two feet high, and consists of only charcoal or firewood.

  • The fire must be in an enclosure a minimum of 16 inches high and made of cement block, stones, or #10 gauge steel.
  • Materials being burned must be kept lower than the sidewalls of the enclosure.
  • Burning should be done with 25 feet of clearance from any structure or standing timber.
  • A charged garden hose or 2 five-gallon buckets of water must be on-site.
  • A shovel or rake must be on-site.
  • Tree branches must be cleared to the height of 15 feet above enclosure.
  • One person age 16 or older that is capable of putting the fire out must be in attendance at all times.
  • The fire must be contained within a firebreak (bare ground).
  • The landowner's permission must be obtained if not on your property.
  • Burning in a burn barrel is always illegal.
  • Burn only when winds do not exceed 7-10 MPH.
  • Residential Fires are those consisting of leaves, clippings, prunings, and other yard and garden debris that are generated on-site.

  • Only natural vegetation (ie: leaves and dead branches) may be burned. This means that garbage, wood planks, and house-building materials may not be burned.
  • A shovel or a rake must be on-site.
  • Residential fires greater than 4 feet in diameter require a written permit. Fires less than 4 feet in diameter require a verbal permit. Call 360-676-6934 for a verbal permit. A written permit costs $50 and is valid for 7 days.
  • For burning permit information specific to Glenhaven, click here.
  • For piles over 10' x 10' a tractor with a loader, bulldozer, or excavator with an operator must be on site at all times.
  • Fires under 4 feet must have a charged garden hose or 10 gallons of water in buckets.
  • Fires 4-10 feet must have a charged garden hose or a 55 gallon water source with a pump and enough hose to reach the fire.
  • Fires over 10 feet must have a 300 gallon water source with a pump and enough 1 1/2" hose to reach around the entire fire.
  • One person who is at least 16 years old and capable of putting the fire out must be in attendance at all times AND must have a method of contacting 911 if needed.
  • Only one pile may be burned at a time unless permitted otherwise.
  • All fires must be contained within a firebreak (bare ground).
  • The fire must be 50 feet from any structure, standing timber or power lines.
  • The landowner's permission must be obtained if not on your property.
  • For land clearing burns, Whatcom residents need a permit.

  • For burning permit information specific to Glenhaven, click here. Make sure to call the Whatcom County Fire Marshall's office 360-676-6907 for more information about land-clearing.
  • For District 18 residents living outside the Glenhaven/Cain Lake area, call the Whatcom County Fire Marshal's office 360-676-6907 for more information about land-clearing rules and obtaining a permit.
  • All written permits expire December 31st.
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    When should I call 9-1-1?
    You should call 9-1-1 whenever you have an emergency. An emergency can be a medical condition, a fire, or a life-threatening situation. Examples of some medical reasons for calling 9-1-1 include (but aren't limited to): chest pain, seizures, fainting, traumatic injuries, difficulty breathing, and prolonged illness.

    You can also call 9-1-1 for fires, including: house fires, car fires, illegal burning, and any fire that is out of your control, even if it is small.

    Finally, you may call 9-1-1 for any life-threatening situation, such as: fights, burglaries, people with weapons, strangers who are acting suspiciously, and vandalism.

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    What happens when I call 9-1-1?
    When you call 9-1-1, a dispatcher in Bellingham will receive your call by saying, "Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?" After you tell him or her your emergency, you will be transfered to either a fire/medical dispatcher or a police dispatcher. As you tell the dispatcher about your emergency and your address, a second dispatcher is sending help to your location. You may be asked to stay on the line to answer questions, or you may be given directions on how you can help. Often, you'll be told to hang up and call back if the situation changes or becomes worse.

    As responding units search for your house, it will be important for you to have a well-lit, easily identifiable address sign on your house, in your front yard, or on your mail box. Letters should be large, visible, and either have reflector tape or they should have a light shining on them for roadway visibility.
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    Why does a fire engine come when I call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency?
    District 18 is a volunteer-based community. When you call 9-1-1, several units will be dispatched. Oftentimes, the fire truck will arrive before the ambulance because the first responders were closest to the fire truck at the time. Sometimes, both are sent because there is a need for additional Firefighters/EMTs to assist with the call. Regardless, the crew in all vehicles are trained to provide medical treatment.
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    Do you have fire prevention programs?
    We perform a fire prevention fair at our annual Easter Egg Hunt, and we put up a booth for Fire Prevention Week in October at the Glenhaven Country Store. We are also available (on a limited schedule) to do fire safety and basic medical intervention training for small groups, such as: Girl/Boy Scouts, Campfire Clubs, Homeschool, and other interested parties. We also have a variety of fire prevention materials. If you live in the district, you can request a free smoke detector, brochures on fire safety, and activity fun packs for the kids. For more information, call Michelle at 595-2598.
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    Do you provide certification for First Aid/CPR?
    We will soon be providing a free Babysitter CPR and First Aid certification course for kids ages 12-18. This class will be offered in mid-July. To be added to the waiting list, call Michelle Goelzenleuchter at 595-2598. We'll eventually be putting on more citizen CPR courses. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, we are available on a limited schedule for first aid demos for your group. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have, and we can direct you to where you will be able to obtain CPR certification.
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    What should I do if I'm driving and I see a fire engine or an ambulance?
    If the fire engine or ambulance has flashing lights, you should ALWAYS pull over to the right side of the road and stop until it has passed. You should not pass a fire engine or ambulance with flashing lights for any reason, even if it is only backing into the fire station. If you see fire hose stretched across the road, do not drive over it. You'll need to find a detour. Driving over the hose will damage it. In extreme cases, a damaged hose could lead to the loss of property and/or life. Finally, if a fire engine or ambulance is parked across both lanes of traffic, it means the road is closed and you'll have to find a detour.

    We appreciate your support in all the above instances. Following the law is essential for your safety and ours. Thank you.
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    How can I become a volunteer?
    If you'd like to become a volunteer, first look at the requirements on our volunteers page. If you are interested or would like more information, call us at 595-0130 or 815-7483.
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    I don't want to be a firefighter or an EMT, but I'd still like to help. What can I do to help?
    There are many ways you can assist the fire department. Much of our equipment is purchased from donations. Whether you send a donation to the department or support us at our annual barbeque, the monetary support is greatly appreciated.

    We also have a group called the "Fire Bells." The Fire Bells are friends, neighbors, and families of the firefighters who just want to help. They raise funds for fire and medical equipment through a variety of fundraisers. The Fire Bells meet once a month at station 26. For more information, call 595-0130 or 815-7483.
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    Do you provide station tours?
    Station tours are available by a scheduled appointment. Please call 595-0130 or 815-7483.
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