Farm Talk

January 14, 2014

Planning essential to effective prescribed burn

Sean Hubbard
CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — There is nothing better than when a plan comes together. Also, in this case, there is nothing worse than when there was no plan to start with.

John Weir, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension fire ecologist, said well-conducted fires in the field are the result of well-written fire plans.

“It helps us to put it down on paper and think this whole process through,” he said. “So when the day comes when we’re ready to light that fire, we’ve already thought it through and have a plan to follow to help us make the burn safe and effective to meet our goals and objectives.”

A burn plan is a written prescription for the prescribed fire including critical elements such as the weather conditions under which the burn will be conducted, number of personnel and duties of each and the type, amount and placement of equipment needs to safely conduct the burn.

Other key elements needed for a proper burn plan are a description of burn unit, including topography and vegetation in unit, a list of parameters, aerial map and smoke management plan.

“Another good item to have is a ‘go no-go’ checklist,” Weir said. “Have I called local fire department? Yes or no? Did I call adjoining neighbors? Are the weather conditions within my description? Do I have adequate equipment?”

If the answer is no to any of these questions, then a burn should not be conducted.

“No burn plan is perfect and no two are alike because they are as different as the burn units for which they are written,” he said. “Each burn plan may require different information or planning, with some requiring more information about a specific topic than others.”

Instructions on completing a burn plan, along with a sample plan and blank plan sheet, are available online at osufacts.okstate.edu by searching for fact sheet NREM-2893. For additional information, contact your local Extension office. £