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EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about Norway's fire bans

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EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about Norway's fire bans
A fire burning outside of Bergen. Photo: Siv Kristin Hovland/Bergen fire department

Fire bans were issued for both Oslo and Bergen on Wednesday and Thursday, and restrictions are already in place in many other places in the country. But what does it mean and are you allowed to barbecue?


Oslo announced its "extraordinary ban on the use of fire" in the city and its surroundings in a press release on Wednesday, and Bergen, together with the neighbouring Osterøy, Vaksdal and Samnanger municipalities, followed up on Thursday with its own ban, which came into force on Friday at midday. 

Kristiansand brought in a total fire ban on June 9th, and Rogaland, the country around Stavanger brought in a "total fire ban"  on Wednesday. 

There are generally two types of fire bans in Norway: what Norwegian authorities call a “general fire ban” and an “extraordinary" or "total" fire ban. 

The general fire ban 

In Norway there is a general fire ban in place from April 15th to September 15th, automatically, every year. 

The authorities distinguish between innmark and utmark. Innmark is cultivated land, with crops or animal pastures, while utmark includes forests, beaches, the mountains, meadows, marshes, and other types of wilder landscapes

The general ban bans lighting bonfires, fires, or use disposable barbecues in or near forests or other types of utmark.

You are only allowed to light a fire in utmark if has been raining heavily for a long time, or there is snow on the ground, making it "quite obvious" that there is no risk of the fire spreading. 

You are also allowed to use a primus stove or other cooking implement on utmark if there is no risk of fire. 

Finally, you are allowed to light bonfires and have barbecues on sites in forests or other wilderness areas which have been specially set up by the authorities. 


An extraordinary or total fire ban 

When a municipality or county institutes an "extraordinary" or "total" fire ban, then you are no longer allowed to light a fire even in innmark, or green areas in cities and towns such as public parks and municipal barbecue areas. You are also no longer allowed to use a camping stove in forests and other utmark areas. 

Midsummer bonfires, and bonfires to celebrate Sankt Hans are also forbidden under the ban.  

Most municipalities, however, still allow people to barbecue in their own gardens, and in "schoolyards, car parks, and sports fields, so long as these are not close to forests and fields". 

In its press release, Bergen asked residents to be especially careful "especially on balconies, terraces and in gardens".


What happens if you are caught breaking an "extraordinary fire ban"? 

Anyone who breaks an extraordinary fire ban risks being prosecuted under Norway's fires and explosions act and receiving a fine or up to three months in prison. 

How long will the bans be in place for? 

Norway's general ban will be in place until September 15th, but the extraordinary bans announced this week will all be in place until June 30th, when they may or may not be extended, depending on whether Norway sees significant rainfall. 

Useful vocabulary 

Bålforbud - bonfire ban (in place across Norway from April 15th - September 15th) 

Ekstraordinært forbud mot bruk av ild - extraordinary ban on the use of fire (a stricter ban imposed when the risk of forest fires is high). 

Innland - fields used for crops and pastureland and other types of cultivated area

Utland - forests, marshes, heaths, grasslands and other types of wilderness area 

engangsgrill - disposible barbecue

tilrettelagte grill- og bålplasser - public grill and bonfire sites


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