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Conducting Prescribed Fires

A Comprehensive Manual

By John R. Weir

Publication Year: 2009

Landowners and managers, municipalities, the logging and livestock industries, and conservation professionals all increasingly recognize that setting prescribed fires may reduce the devastating effects of wildfire, control invasive brush and weeds, improve livestock range and health, maintain wildlife habitat, control parasites, manage forest lands, remove hazardous fuel in the wildland-urban interface, and create residential buffer zones. In this practical and helpful manual, John R. Weir, who has conducted more than 720 burns in four states, offers a step-by-step guide to the systematic application of burning to meet specific land management needs and goals.   

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Contents

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pp. v-

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Preface

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pp. vii-

In the past twenty years I have conducted over seven hundred prescribed burns, and Conducting Prescribed Fires is the result of that experience. Many of these burns have been enjoyable, whereas others have been very educational and memorable, to say the least. It has been an honor to teach private landowners, college students, and agency personnel how to burn and a privilege to be associated with...

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chapter 1. Why Conduct Prescribed Fires?

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pp. 1-12

Historically there have been two main causes of fire in the world: lightning and humans. Lightning has been a source of ignition in a majority of the ecosystems around the world; however, most lightning fires do not burn large areas or turn into conflagrations as anthropogenic, or human-caused, fires do. So the effect of lightning fires may be small for an entire continent, ...

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chapter 2. Law and Liability

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pp. 13-21

Written fire law has been around since the time of Moses, and Exodus 22:6 states that the liability from an escaped fire rests on the person setting the fire. Even today, according to landowners in several states, the number-one reason they do not burn is fear of liability. A lot of the public’s fear is unfounded because of their misunderstanding of prescribed fire. Most people associate...

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chapter 3. Prescribed Fire Policy

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pp. 22-26

A prescribed fire policy is set by a specific entity and lists the requirements and guidelines that should be followed when conducting a prescribed burn. Policies can include the educational background, training, and experience requirements for personnel; weather and climate conditions under which burns will be conducted; and equipment required for conducting the burn, as well...

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chapter 4. Public Relations

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pp. 27-40

A good public relations plan is just as important as a good prescribed fire plan. Working with the public, instead of ignoring them, will benefit a prescribed burning program many times over. Remember that concerns about public relations are not as important in more sparsely populated areas as they are if you want to conduct a burn next to a major city with civic...

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chapter 5. Fire Weather

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pp. 41-50

Weather is the most important factor in deciding whether or not to conduct a prescribed burn. This is due in part to the weather’s dynamic nature and the difficulty in making accurate predictions. Weather parameters such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and frontal boundaries have drastic influences on prescribed burning and fire behavior. Fire behavior...

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chapter 6. Fire Behavior and Fuel Characteristics

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pp. 51-61

In order for a fire to occur, three elements must be present: fuel to burn, oxygen for the flame, and heat to start and continue the combustion process. This is called the fire triangle, and without one of these elements there is no fire. When a fire occurs or a specific fuel particle burns, four primary stages of combustion are present, and the amount of fuel...

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chapter 7. Fire Prescriptions

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pp. 62-70

According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the word prescribe means “to lay down as a rule or directive; to establish rules, laws, or directions; to order or recommend a remedy or treatment.” A prescription is a formula directing the preparation of something; in this case it refers to a fire. A fire prescription for a prescribed fire is a set of conditions under which a fire will be set...

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chapter 8. Fire Plans

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pp. 71-77

Prescribed fire plans and fire policy go hand in hand because the plan is affected by how the policy is written. The policy should determine what you need to have in order to properly conduct prescribed fires, and the plan should determine the specific requirements for each individual burn unit. Sometimes the fire plan may require more detail than the policy dictates...

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chapter 9. Personal Safety

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pp. 78-87

Usually, conducting prescribed fires under most circumstances is not an extremely taxing physical activity, especially when everything is working well. But when problems arise or when you work on a challenging unit, burning can be both mentally and physically demanding work. These challenges can test the fitness of every crew member and serve as a reminder of why you need to...

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chapter 10. Firebreaks

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pp. 88-105

Firebreaks, also known as fireguards or firelines, are one of the most important elements of a properly conducted prescribed fire. Firebreaks serve several purposes, but the most crucial is to contain the fire within the boundary of the burn unit. Well-constructed firebreaks make burning safer and reduce the amount of work you have to do when conducting prescribed...

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chapter 11. Fire Equipment

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pp. 106-122

Equipment for conducting a prescribed fire can range from simple and low cost, to multifaceted and expensive. Many times it may be limited by budget, experience, or agency requirements. The main thing to remember is to use dependable, practical equipment that everyone on the fire crew can operate. ...

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chapter 12. Ignition Devices

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pp. 123-135

To carry out a prescribed burn, you have to have an ignition source. Numerous items can be used to ignite prescribed fires. Some are very simple and inexpensive, while others are complex and costly. Choose the device that best suits your needs and your budget while allowing you to achieve the goals and objectives of your prescribed fire. I have been on more than one burn where...

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chapter 13. Ignition Techniques

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pp. 136-155

To carry out a prescribed burn, you have to have an ignition source. Numerous items can be used to ignite prescribed fires. Some are very simple and inexpensive, while others are complex and costly. Choose the device that best suits your needs and your budget while allowing you to achieve the goals and objectives of your prescribed fire. I have been on more than one burn where...

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chapter 14. Smoke Management

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pp. 156-167

Some concentrations of smoke are found in all phases of combustion, but they are greatest in the smoldering phase. Smoke is also more prevalent during the smoldering combustion of duff, decaying logs, and organic soils than in grass, shrub, and small-diameter woody fuels, which allows these fuel types to produce fewer emissions (Sandburg and Dost 1990). Also, the heat release...

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chapter 15. Postburn Mop-up

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pp. 168-176

The main objective of postburn mop-up is to prevent the residual fire from igniting outside the firebreak; the secondary purpose is to reduce or eliminate postburn smoke problems. Most of the larger spotfires I have encountered on prescribed burns are caused by improper mop-up after the burn. These fires can restart anywhere from a few hours after the burn to a day or two later. Because of the...

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chapter 16. Prescribed Fire Associations

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pp. 177-182

When you ask people why they do not burn, they will usually give you one of four reasons (McNeill 2003). The number-one reason is liability. Liability is, and should be, a concern for all people involved with prescribed fire, but it should not be a brick wall. Second is their lack of training for or experience with conducting a burn. Third is not having enough people to help...

References

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pp. 183-188

Index

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pp. 189-194


E-ISBN-13: 9781603443364
E-ISBN-10: 1603443363
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603441346
Print-ISBN-10: 1603441344

Page Count: 206
Illustrations: 83 b&w photos. 10 figs. 3 tables.
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Burning of land -- United States -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Prescribed burning -- United States -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
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