Smokey Bear: Equipment Use & Maintenance

It’s important for the safety of your home and nearby wildlands to learn how to use and maintain outdoor equipment and vehicles in ways that prevent sparking a wildfire.

Remember to always keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of fire.

Vehicle Safety

  • Be sure chains and other metal parts aren’t dragging from your vehicle-they throw sparks.
  • Check your tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.
  • Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire. You may not even notice the fire until it’s too late.
  • Never let your brake pads wear too thin; metal on metal makes sparks.

Lawn Care

  • Sparks from lawnmowers and power equipment DO start wildfires. Be careful on hot, dry days, and be sure to get your equipment checked regularly.
  • Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Remember that lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal lawnmower blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires.
  • In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable, gasoline-powered equipment. A spark arrester is a mechanical device that traps or destroys hot exhaust particles that have been released from an internal combustion engine. They’re commonly required on tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed eaters and lawnmowers.
  • There are two types of spark arresters: multiposition small engine (MSE) and general purpose (GP). MSEs are for handheld equipment such as chainsaws and leaf blowers. GPs are for engines that remain in a single position, such as tractors and motorcycles. While spark arresters are not 100 percent effective, they greatly reduce the risk of starting a wildfire.
  • Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and engine in proper working order and free of carbon buildup. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t fill to the point of overflowing.
  • When doing any yardwork or work outdoors with mechanical equipment, keep a shovel and a fire extinguisher handy.
  • In wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit and 10 feet of clearance.

Science Topics
Natural Disasters, Wildfires
High School, College
9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, College, Adults

What are you looking for?


Smokey Bear

Website URL

Type of Resource


Assigned Categories