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Prescribed Burn Association Activity, Needs, and Safety Record: a survey of the Great Plains

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GPE publicaon 20156
PrescribedBurnAssociaonAcvity,Needs,andSafetyRecord:
asurveyoftheGreatPlains
Authors::JohnWeir1,DiracTwidwell2,andCarissaL.Wonkka3
1Research Associate, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
2Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy and Horculture, University of NebraskaLincoln
3Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Agronomy and Horculture, University of NebraskaLincoln
OriginalResearch:Weir,Twidwell,andWonkka2015.Prescribedburnassociaonacvity,needs,andsafetyrecord.
RogerMillsPrescribedBurnAssociaonmembers(Oklahoma)meettogooverburnplan
priortostarng.Fromthesurveyallburnassociaonsrequiredawrienburnplanfor
eachburn.PhotobyKarsenDavis.
INTRODUCTION
In2012,weconductedasurveyofthe50existingpre-
scribedburnassociations(PBA)locatediniveGreat
Plainsstates.Wesenta39-questionsurveyviaemail
tothemainpointofcontactforeachPBA(Appendix
II).ThequestionnaireinquiredaboutPBAformation,
burnhistory,ireplanning,memberexperience,exter-
nalassistance,safetyrecord,fueltypes,andotherin-
formation.Wehad27burnassociationscompleteand
returnthesurvey,fora54%returnrate:Oklahoma
(15sent,11returned),Texas(12sent,4returned),
Kansas(7sent,2returned),Nebraska(15sent,10re-
turned)andColorado(1sent,0returned).Ofthere-
turnedsurveys,twowerereturned,butnotcompleted
duetoonePBAbeingdisbandedandtheotherstating
theyhadnotdoneanythingyettoreport.Inthisfact
sheet,wepresenttheresultsfromthequestionnaire.
AGEOFPRESCRIBEDBURNASSOCIAITONS
Asof2012,theaveragePBAintheGreatPlainshad
beeninexistencefor5years.Theoldestresponding
PBAwasthePrescribedBurnTaskForcefromcentral
Nebraska,whichhadbeeninexistencefor17years.
TheCreekCountyPBAfromnortheastOklahomawas
thenewest,formedonlymonthsbeforethesurvey.
TheaveragePBAhadbeenformedfor8yearsinTex-
as,6yearsinOklahoma,4yearsinNebraska,and3
yearsinKansas(Table1).
BURNACTIVITY
Ofthe27respondingPBAs26reportedconductinga
totalof1,094prescribedburnson472,235acressince
theirestablishment.Onaverage,eachPBAconducted
40.5burns,withsomePBAspostingconsiderably
moreireactivitythanothers.Thenumberofburns
conductedperPBArangedfrom0-300duringthesur-
veyperiod,withanoverallav-
erageof6.4burnsperPBAsper
year.Thevariationinburning
activityispossiblyduetodif-
ferencesinexperienceandhow
longthePBAhadbeenestab-
lished.AlsosomePBAsarejust
considerablymoreactivethan
others,forexample,onenewly
establishedPBAaveragedover
25burnsperyearfortheive
yearsithasexisted.Theaver-
ageburnunitsizewas319
acres,withtotalburnunitsizerangingfrom15to
1,399acres.PBAsaveragedatotalof14,157acres
burnedsincetheywereformed,butsomeofthemost
activePBAshaveburnedmorethan100,000acres.A
summaryofPBAburningactivityisgiveninTable2.
GRANTS/DONATIONS
All27respondingPBAshadreceivedsometypeof
fundingthroughgrantsordonations.Theamount
eachPBAreceivedrangedfrom
$500to$250,000.Mostofthese
fundshavebeenusedtopurchase
equipmentfortheassociation,with
somefundsfortrainingactivities.
Thesegrantswereintheformof
privatedonations,non-
governmentalorganizationgrants
anddonations,aswellasstateand
federalgrants.
NEEDS
EachPBAwasaskedtorankthe
followingneeds,1thru6,with1
beingthemostimportant:Train-
State
#PBAs
knownin
2012
#PBAsre
sponding
AverageDate
PBAFormed
OldestPBA
Formed
NewestPBA
Formed
Oklahoma 15 11 2006 2002 2012
Nebraska 15 10 2008 1995 2011
Texas 12 4 2004 1997 2011
Kansas 7 2 2009 2001 2007
Great Plains 50 27 2007 1995 2012
Table1.Informaononthenumber,ageandyearofformaonforPBAsintheGreatPlains
asof2012.
Surveycategory Oklahoma Texas Kansas Nebraska
Number of PBAs re
sponding
11 4 2 10
Known # of PBAs 15 12 7 15
Total number of burns
conducted
303 348 21 422
Total acres burned 168,334 188,515 23,970 91,416
Avg. burns conducted/
year
30.3 23.2 4.2 24.8
Avg. acres burned/year 16,833 12,568 4,794 5,377
Avg. acres burned/PBA
(range)
16,833
(0100,000)
47,129
(152150,000)
11,985
(023,970)
9,142
(50060,000)
Avg. acres/burn 556 542 1,141 217
Table2.Thenumberofburnsandacresburnedbystate.
2
3
ing,Equipment,Membership,Funding,Insuranceand
NewLaws.Overall,training(2.1average)wasthe
number1rankedneed,followedcloselybybothinsur-
ance(2.9average)andmembership(3.1average).
Equipment(3.4average)andfunding(4.1average)
ranked4thand5th.Newlaws(4.8average)werecon-
sideredtobetheleastimportantneedbyfaramong
respondingPBAs(Figure1).Statesgenerallyranked
theirneedsverysimilarlyandonlyinsuranceshowing
aslightdifferencebystate(AppendixI),withbothTex-
asandOklahomaratinginsuranceasagreaterneed
thanNebraskaandKansas.
CONDUCTINGTHEBURN
Goalsandobjecves.Whileallfactorsgiveninthesur-
veywereimportant,killingandpreventingcedars/
juniperswereidentiiedasthetopgoalsofconducting
prescribedburnsbyPBAs.Killingestablishedcedar/
juniperandpreventingcedar/juniperencroachment
weretheonlytwofactorslistedbysurveyrespondents
asbeinganobjective“always”morethanbeingan
“occasional”objective.Goalsandobjectivesassociated
withlivestockproduction,wildlife,ecologicalrestora-
tion,andCRPmaintenanceweremoreoftengivenas
“occasional”objectivesratherthan“always”anobjec-
tive(Figure2).
Burnplandevelopment All27PBAsrespondingtothe
surveyrequireawrittenireplanforeachburn.
ThroughouttheGreatPlains,22%ofPBAsresponded
thatmostmemberswrotetheirownireplan.50%of
PBAsstatedthattheygetwrittenburnplansorassis-
tancefromtheNationalResourceConservationService
(NRCS)formostoftheirburns.Asmallpercentageof
PBAsgetwrittenireplansorassistancefromstate
wildlifeagenciesandprivateconsultantsformostof
theirburns.Whenlookingatwrittenireplansby
state,100%ofKansasPBAsreportedthattheywrite
mostoftheirownplans,withasmallamountofassis-
tancecomingfromNRCS.InOklahoma,18%ofPBAs
indicatedthattheywritemostoftheirownburnplans,
with73%ofPBAsindicatingthattheyreceivedhelp
fromtheNRCSformostoftheirburnplans.InTexas,
25%ofPBAsreportedthattheywritemostoftheir
ownburnplans,whiletheNRCS,cooperativeexten-
sion,andprivateconsultantseachprovidedsupple-
mentalassistance.InNebraska,10%ofPBAsreported
thattheywritemostoftheirownburnplans,thelow-
estpercentofanystate.AlmostallPBAsinNebraska
receivedsomesupportfromtheNRCSorPheasants
Forever,while40%ofPBAsreportedthattheNRCSor
PheasantsForeverprovidedassistancewithmostof
theirburnplans.(Figure3)
Training/experience Whensurveyedabouttrainingor
experienceofmembers,65%ofPBAsreportedthat
Figure1.Thefrequencyafactorwaslistedastheleastand
mostimportantneedamongPBAs.
Figure2.ThepercentofPBAslisngafactorasalwaysbeinga
goalofprescribedburning,somemesbeingagoal,ornever
beingagoal.
mostmembershadpriorburnexperience,and75%
reportedthatsomemembershadnotrainingorexpe-
riencepriortojoiningthePBA.Thevastmajorityof
PBAs(88%)indicatedthatsomemembershadre-
ceivedtrainingorexperiencewithirepriortobecom-
inginvolvedwithaPBA.(Figure4)
Nocaonofburns Tonotifymembersofanupcom-
ingburn,63%ofPBAsalwaysusedaphoneorcalllist;
52%alwaysusedemail.AfewofthePBAssometimes
usedawebsitetonotifymembersofburns.Anaverage
of8.7members(witharangeof3-15)assistedwith
eachburn.
Firebreakuse AlltypesofirebreaksareusedbyPBAs.
Firebreaksincludedroads,cultivatedields,creeks,
mowedline/wetlines,andbladedlines.Roadswerethe
mostcommontypeofirebreak(alwaysorsometimes
used100%ofthetime),followedbymowedlines/
wetlinesanddiskedlines(alwaysorsometimesused
96%ofthetime).Creeks/riversanddozed/bladed
lineswerealwaysorsometimesused80%and72%of
thetime,respectively.
Thereweresomedifferencesconcerningirebreakuse
amongstates.Mostnotableisthat78%ofNebraska
PBAsneveruseddozed/bladedlines,insteadfavoring
mowedlinesorwetlines.Incontrast,25%ofTexas
PBAsneverusedmowedline/wetlineirebreaks.
Burningwindows Prescribedburnswereconductedin
everymonthoftheyearbyPBAs,butseasonalprefer-
enceswereapparent.MarchandAprilwerethemost
commonprescribedburnmonths,followedbyFebru-
aryandMay.ThistrendwasobservedforPBAsineach
state.InOklahoma,PBAsburnedineverymonthofthe
year,butthemajorityofburnsoccurredinMarchand
April.InTexas,burnswerealsoconductedinevery
month,withJanuary,FebruaryandMarchbeingthe
mainburnseason.Kansasonlyreportedburningdur-
ingivemonthsoftheyear,withMarch,AprilandMay
beingthemainmonths.NebraskaPBAsreportedburn-
inginallmonthsexceptJulyandAugust,withMarch,
AprilandMaybeingthemostactiveburnmonths.
Importantweatherparameters Weatherparameters
thatwereimportanttomemberswhenconductinga
prescribedburnwere:windspeed(100%ofPBAs),
winddirection(100%),relativehumidity(96%),tem-
perature(89%),previousprecipitation(36%)andsoil
moisture(24%).ThemainsourcesforPBAstoobtain
suchweatherinformationwasfromtheNational
Figure3.ThenumberofPBAsthatwritetheirownburnplans
versusthosegengassistancefromtheNRCS.Shownarethe
numberofPBAsthatwritemost,some,ornoneoftheirown
burnplans,relavetothenumberofPBAsthatgetwrien
burnplansorassistancefromtheNRCSformost,some,or
noneoftheirburns.
Figure4.Burnexpe
rienceofmembers
priortojoining
PBAs.Shownare
proporonsforPBAs
wheremostmem
bershadpriorburn
experience,some
membershadprior
burnexperience,or
nomembershad
priorburnexperi
ence
4
5
WeatherService(NWS)website(83%)orotherweath-
erwebsites(53%),followedbyNWSspotweather
forecast(46%).
Equipmentusedonprescribedburns Whenaskedabout
equipmentusedonburns,PBAsindicatedthefollow-
ingequipmentwerealwaysused:driptorch(100%of
PBAs),radios,slip-onpumpunitandATVsprayer
(89%foreachequipmenttype),ATVs(88%),weather
instrument/kit(84%),utilityvehicles(65%),lappers/
swatters(59%)andirerakes(46%).Themainper-
sonalprotectiveequipmentalwaysusedbypersonnel
oneachburnwasreportedas:gloves(77%),lamere-
tardantshirt(42%),goggles/safetyglasses(28%),and
lameretardantpants(13%).
Limitaonsonburningacvity Whenaskedwhatfac-
torslimitedthenumberofburnsconductedbyeach
PBAeachyear,themainanswerswerenotenough
burndays(72%ofPBAs),followedbydrought(69%of
PBAs),whichwasatitspeakintheregionduringthe
surveyperiod.ThePBAsrecognizedthatburningdur-
ingoneseasonoftheyearwasalsolimitingthenum-
berofavailableburndays(with48%ofPBAsstatingit
limitedthenumberofburnsconducted).Burnbans
weretheothermainfactorlimitingthenumberof
burnsconductedbyPBAs(with38%ofPBAslisting
burnbansasalimitation).
PBASAFETY/LIABILITYRECORD
Injury/mortalityriskOvertheyearsthePBAshave
maintainedaverystrongsafetyrecord.Basedonthe
questionnaire,1,094burnshavebeenconductedfrom
1995-2012bythePBAs,withnofatalitiesandonlyone
minorinjuryreported.Theinjurywasstatedas“some
minorburnsfromheat,mainlyduetolackofexperi-
enceandburningtooclosetothefence.”Fromthe
WildlandFireighterFatalitiesReportof1999-2008
therewere11reportedfatalitiesonprescribediresby
federalagencies(Fahy2009).Informationaboutinju-
riesatthefederallevelcannotcurrentlybeseparated
fromwildirerelatedvs.prescribedire.
SpotiresandescapesQuestionsonspotiresandes-
capedireswerealsoincludedaspartofthesafetyrec-
ord.Spotiresinthissurveyweredeinedasanyire
ignitionthatoccurredoutsidetheburnunitnomatter
thesource,butisextinguishedimmediatelybyequip-
mentandpersonnelconductingtheprescribedburn.
Ofthe1,094burnsconductedbyPBAsintheGreat
Plains,17ofthe25respondingPBAsreportedhaving
spotires.Overall,PBAsestimatedthatspotiresoc-
curredonatotalof224burns.Thatmeansaspotire
occurredonapproximately1of5prescribedburns
conducted.Thisfrequencyofspotireoccurrenceisthe
samethatwasreportedfromanexperiencedburn
crewworkinginthesameregion(Weir2007).
Evenwiththisfrequencyofspotireoccurrence,the
frequencyofescapediresrequiringexternalsuppres-
sionsupportwasverylow.Escapediresweredeined
asanyireignitionthatleavestheburnunit,nomatter
thesource,andcannotbeimmediatelycontainedusing
theequipmentandpersonnelontheburn.Sevenofthe
25respondingPBAsreportedhaving16escapedires
thattheyhadtocallforassistancetosuppress,whichis
1.5%ofthe1,094totaliresconductedbyPBAs(Figure
5).
TheWildlandFireLessonsLearnedCenter(WFLLC)
releaseda2012reportonprescribediresturnedwild-
ire(2013).Thefederaldeinitionofanescapeisaire
thathasexceededorisexpectedtoexceedinitialattack
Figure5.Percentofspotresandescapedresacrossall
PBAsurveyrespondents.
6
capabilitiesorprescription(USDA-ForestServiceno
date),whichisverysimilartoourescapedeinition.
The2012reportshowed0.8%rateofescapesforfed-
eralagenciesin2012;PBAshad1.5%escaperatefor
ourmulti-yeardatarecord(1995-2012).TheWFLLC
report(2013)showedthesizeofescapesrangedfrom
3.5acresto21,000acresforfederalagencies.PBAs
escapesrangedinsizefrom<0.1acresto2,000acres,
andthisiswith72%ofPBAsnothavinganescaped
ire.ItisalsoimportanttonotethatthePBAsreported
thatvolatileorhighlylammablefuels,suchascedar/
juniper,werepresenton75%oftheburnsconducted.
LiabilityIssues Atthetimeofthesurvey,therewereno
reportedinsuranceclaimsagainstanyofthePBAsor
members.Therehadbeenonelawsuitbroughtagainst
asinglePBAduetoanescapedire.Theburnwascon-
ductedbyamemberoutsideofPBAguidelines,with-
outPBAassistanceandillegallyduringaburnban.The
PBAwasnotdirectlyinvolvedintheactualburninany
way,butwasnamedinthelawsuitbecausetheland-
ownerandpersonstartingtheireweremembersofa
PBAandusingPBAinsurance.Themostdamaginges-
capefromaprescribediresetbyafederalagencyin
WFLLC2012report(2013)caused$11.3millionin
propertydamagesandkilled3civilians.Alsothere
havebeennocivilianorlandownerburnpractitioners
killedduetoPBAescapesorprescribedburns.
SMOKEMANAGEMENT
Twenty-fourof26PBAsreportedthattheywerecon-
cernedaboutsmokemanagementwhenconducting
burns.Winddirection(96%)wasthemainfactorused
byPBAswhenpreparingasmokemanagementplan.
Thiswasfollowedbytransportwindspeed(48%)and
categoryday(45%).InOklahoma,whereaweb-based
statewidesmokedispersionmodelisavailable,50%of
PBAsindicatedthatmembersalwaysuseditforsmoke
managementplanning.
SUMMARY
Thissurveyprovidesasummaryoftheactivity,needs,
concernsandsafetyrecordofprescribedburnassocia-
tionsacrosstheGreatPlains.Thesurveyshowsmany
PBAsareveryactive,butothersstillfacemanycon-
straintsthatlimitburningactivity.Theirstatedneeds
aregiveninthissurvey,withthetopthreeincluding
training,meansoflimitingliability(e.g.insurance),and
recruitmentofnewmembers.Inaddition,thesafety
recordofPBAsindicatestheyprovideasafeandviable
optionforlandownersandmanagerswhouseor
wouldliketouseprescribedireontheirlands.
CrossTimbersPrescribedBurnAssociaon(Oklahoma)memberspatrollingtherelineonaburn.FromthesurveyPBAscon
ducted1,094burnson472,235acres.PhotobyVerlinHart.
Furthermore,PBAsarecontinuingtogrowinpopulari-
ty.Whenthissurveywasconductedin2012there
were50knownPBAsinsevenstates,currently(2015)
thereare62PBAsineightstates,alongwiththree
statewideburnassociationalliancesandaregionalalli-
ance.Formoreinformationandaninteractivemapof
PBAlocationsvisit: hp://www.gprescience.org/re
organizaonsagencies/.
ForinformaonaboutPBAsinvariousstatesvisitthefollow
ingsites:
 OklahomaPrescribedBurnAssociationwww.ok-
pba.org
 PrescribedBurnAllianceofTexas
www.pbatexas.org
 KansasPrescribedFireCouncilhttp://
www.kglc.org/kansas-prescribed-ire-council/
kansas-prescribed-burn-associations
 NebraskaPrescribedBurnAssociationshttp://
nebraskapf.com/habitat-programs/faq/
LITERATURECITED
Fahy,R.F.2009.WildlandFireighterFatalities,1999-2008.
NationalFireProtectionAssociation.Quincy,MA.11p.
Taylor,C.A.,Jr.2005.Prescribedburningcooperatives:em-
poweringandequippingrancherstomanagerange-
lands.Rangelands27:18-23.
Twidwell,D.,Fuhlendorf,S.D.,Taylor,C.A.,&Rogers,W.E.
(2013).Reiningthresholdsincoupledire–vegetation
modelstoimprovemanagementofencroachingwoody
plantsingrasslands.JournalofAppliedEcology,50:603-
613.
Twidwell,D.,W.E.Rogers,S.D.Fuhlendorf,C.L.Wonkka,D.M.
Engle,J.R.Weir,U.P.Kreuter,C.A.Taylor,Jr.2013b.The
risingGreatPlainsirecampaign:citizenryresponseto
woodyplantencroachment.FrontiersinEcologyand
theEnvironment11:e64-e71.
USDA-ForestService.NoDate.FireTerminology.Viewedon
website3August2015athttp://www.fs.fed.us/
nwacire/home/terminology.html#E
Weir,J.R.2007.Usingrelativehumiditytopredictspotire
probabilityonprescribedburns.In:Sosebee,R.E.;
Wester,D.B.;Britton,C.M.;McArthur,E.D.;Kitchen,S.G.,
comp.2007.Proceedings:Shrublanddynamics—ire
andwater;2004August10-12;Lubbock,TX.Proceed-
ingsRMRS-P-47.FortCollins,CO:U.S.Departmentof
Agriculture,ForestService,RockyMountainResearch
Station.173p.
Weir,J.R.andT.G.Bidwell.2005.PrescribedFireAssocia-
tions.OklahomaCooperativeExtensionServiceNREM-
2880.Stillwater,2p.
WildlandFireLessonsLearnedCenter.2013.2012Escaped
PrescribedFireReviewSummary:Lessonfromescaped
prescribedires.
For more informaon: www.GPreScience.org
GPE Email: GPFireScience@missouristate.edu
Sherry Leis, Program Leader
Carol Blocksome, Outreach Specialist
7
APPENDIXI.THERANKEDNEEDSAMONGPBASBYSTATE(1=MOSTIMPORTANT;6=LEASTIMPORTANT)
Note: It is important to recognize that inferential power to make comparisons across states is low, given the low respondent rate of
Kansas and Texas PBAs (please refer to Table 1 for survey respondent rate).
8
9
Appendix II. Prescribed Burn Association Survey Questions.
P r e s c r i b e d B u r n A s s o c i a t i o n S u r v e y
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Oklahoma State University
10
Prescribed Burn Association Survey 2012
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Oklahoma State University
1. What is the name of the burn association?
2. In what state(s) and county or counties does the burn association operate in?
3. What year was the burn association formed?
4. Approximately how many total acres are owned, managed or leased by the
membership of the burn association?
5. How many burns has the association conducted since it was formed?
6. Approximately how many acres has the association burned since it was formed?
7. Does the prescribed burn association currently have group insurance coverage?
Select one. Yes No
8. Has the burn association ever had group insurance coverage?
Select one. Yes No
9. Has the association received any grants or donations for equipment or training
purposes? Select one. Yes No If Yes, how much have you received?
10. Rank the following needs of the burn association 1 through 6, with 1 being the most
important:
Training Equipment Membership Funding
Insurance New Laws
11. On average how many association members assist on each burn?
12. How is the association membership notified of upcoming burns? Please mark each
one.
Notification Method
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t Know
Phone or call list
11
Email
Website
Flyer
Mail
Other
13. Where do the association and its members get most of their information about
conducting prescribed burns? Please mark each one.
Assistance
Provider
Always
provides
assistance
Sometimes
provides
assistance
Never
provides
assistance
Don’t
Know
USDA-NRCS
US Fish &
Wildlife
Service
Cooperative
Extension
State Wildlife
Agency
State Forestry
The Nature
Conservancy
Private
Consultant
Local Fire
Department
Other
14. Does your burn association require a written fire plan to be completed prior to each
burn? Select one. Yes No
15. Where do members of the association get their fire plans from? Please mark each
one.
Fire Plans
Most
Members
Some
Members
No
Members
Don’t
Know
Write their
own
USDA-NRCS
US Fish &
Wildlife
Service
Cooperative
Extension
12
State Wildlife
Agency
State Forestry
The Nature
Conservancy
Private
Consultant
Local Fire
Department
Other
16. What type of training or experience do most of the members of the burn association
have in regards to prescribed burning? Please mark each one.
Prescribed Fire
Training
Most
Members
Some
Members
No
Members
Don’t
Know
None
Prior burn experience
Fire department
training/experience
NWCG training (S130)
University/extension
training
Agency training course
Website training course
From reading books &
other material
Other
17. What type of firebreaks or fireguards is used on the association’s burns? Please
mark each one.
Firebreak/Fireguard
Type
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
Bladed/Dozed
Disked
Mowed-Wetline
Roads
Creeks/Rivers
Fireplow
Cultivated Fields
Natural Barriers
Pre-Burned Firebreaks
Other
18. In which months of the year does the burn association conduct prescribed burns?
Please mark each one.
13
Month
Always
Burn
Sometimes
Burn
Never Burn
Don’t Know
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
19. Does the burn association receive special exemption to conduct prescribed fires
during burn bans? Select one. Yes No
If Yes, how many burns has the burn association conducted during a burn ban and on
approximately how many acres?
20. What factors limit the number of burns conducted by the association each year?
Please mark each one.
Factors Limiting the
Number of Burns
Very
Limiting
Somewhat
Limiting
Never
Limiting
Don’t
Know
Not enough burn days
Burning only in one
season of the year
Drought
Not enough fine fuel
Not enough equipment
Not enough labor
Not enough funds
Burn Bans
State Laws
Smoke/Air Quality Issues
Local Fire Officials
Other
21. Do any of the following groups assist association members with the actual
conducting of prescribed burns? Please mark each one.
Assistance
Provider
Always
provides
assistance
Sometimes
provides
assistance
Never
provides
assistance
Don’t
Know
14
USDA-NRCS
US FWS
Cooperative
Extension
State Wildlife
Agency
State
Forestry
The Nature
Conservancy
Private
Consultant
Local Fire
Department
University
Personnel
Other
22. What are the main sources of weather information used prior to conducting burns?
Please mark each one.
Weather Source
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
National Weather
Service Radio
National Weather
Service Spot Forecast
National Weather
Service Website
Television Weather
Channels
Local Radio Station
Local Television News
Other Weather
Websites
23. Which of the following weather parameters are important to members of the burn
association when conducting a prescribed fire? Please mark each one.
Weather Parameter
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
Temperature
Wind Speed
Wind Direction
15
24. What goals and objective are prescribed burns conducted by the association? Please
mark each one.
25. What type or types of volatile or highly flammable fuels are present on burns
conducted by the association? Please mark each one.
Relative Humidity
1 Hour Fuel Moisture
10 Hour Fuel Moisture
Live Fuel Moisture
Juniper/Cedar Leaf
Moisture
Keetch-Byram Drought
Index (KBDI)
Previous Precipitation
Soil Moisture
Other
Goal & Objective
Always
Occasionally
Never
Don’t Know
Kill established
Cedar /Juniper
Prevent Cedar
/Juniper
establishment
Livestock
Production
Wildlife
Management
Maintaining existing
rangeland/forest
Restoring
rangeland/forest
Managing CRP or
improved pastures
Other
Volatile Fuel Type
Always
Present
Occasionally
Present
Never
Present
Don’t Know
Cedar /Juniper
Mechanical treated
cedar/juniper
Cedar/Juniper piles
Other brush piles
Volatile shrubs
Other
16
26. What percent of the burns conducted by the association have volatile or highly
flammable fuels present? Mark the appropriate percent.
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
27. Has a spotfire occurred on any burns conducted by the association? (A spot fire is
any fire ignition that occurs outside the burn unit no matter the source, but is extinguished
by equipment and personnel at the burn)?
Select one. Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then approximately how many spotfires have occurred on association
burns?
28. Has an escaped fire occurred on any burns conducted by the association? (An
escaped fire is any fire that leaves the burn unit and cannot be immediately contained using
the equipment and personnel at the burn)?
Select one. Yes No
If the answer was Yes, then approximately how many escaped fires have occurred on
association burns?
29. Has the association had to call for assistance from local fire departments or other
agencies on any escaped fires Select one. Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then how many times has the association had to call for the fire
department or other agencies to assist with the suppression of an escaped fire?
30. What is the approximate size of the largest spotfire or escaped fire that has occurred
on an association burn? acres
31. Has there been any litigation, lawsuits or insurance claims filed against the burn
association or a member due to an escaped fire? Select one Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then how many?
32. What is the major cause of the spotfires or escaped fires while burning? Please mark
each one.
17
Cause of
Spotfire/Escape
Main cause
of fires to
escape
Sometimes
causes fires
to escape
Never
causes fires
to escape
Don’t
Know
Embers from
cedar/juniper
Hardwood leaf
litter
Fire or smoke
whirls
Embers from
grass
Brush piles in
unit
Improperly
prepared
firebreaks
Other
33. Have there ever been any injuries on any of the association’s burns?
Select one. Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then how many and what types of injuries have occurred?
34. Have there ever been any fatalities associated with any of the burns conducted by
the association? Select one. Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then how many and what were the causes?
35. From the equipment list below mark the type of equipment used on most burns
conducted by the association. Please mark each one.
Equipment
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
Weather Kit/Instrument
Drip Torch
Backpack pump
ATV Sprayer
Rake (Fire, leaf, council)
Shovel
Swatter/Flapper
Leaf Blower
Chainsaw
Slip-on Pumper Units
Radios
Road Signs
ATV (Four Wheelers)
18
UTV (Gator,Mule,Ranger)
Equipment Trailer
List any other equipment that is frequently used that was not listed.
36. From the personal protective equipment (PPE) list below mark the type of PPE
normally worn by personnel on each burn conducted by the association. Please mark each
one.
Personal Protective
Equipment
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
Flame Retardant Shirt
Flame Retardant Pants
Flame Retardant
Coveralls
Helmet
Goggles/Safety Glasses
Gloves
Hearing Protection
Fire Shelter
List any other PPE that is frequently used that was not listed.
37. Are members of the burn association concerned with smoke management issues
when planning burns? Select one. Yes No
38. Which of the following smoke management planning items are used in preparing a
smoke management plan? Please mark each one.
Smoke Management
Planning
Always
Used
Sometimes
Used
Never
Used
Don’t
Know
Wind Direction
Ventilation Rate
Mixing Height
Transport Wind Speed
Category Day
Smoke Trajectory Map
Smoke Dispersion
models, such as OK-Fire,
KSFire
Smoke Plume Trajectory
models, such as V-Smoke
National Weather Service
Air Quality Forecast
Guidance
Not Concerned with
Smoke Issues
19
39. Do any of the local fire departments assist the association with conducting burns?
Select one. Yes No
If the answer is Yes, then in what capacity do they assist? Please mark each one.
Fire Department
Assistance
Always
Sometimes
Never
Don’t
Know
Provides or assists with
Training
Provides personnel to
assist on burns
Provide equipment to
assist on burns
Provide technical advice
or assistance
Association must get fire
department permission to
burn
Other
... Likewise, a survey of landowners burning with Prescribed Burn Associations in the southern Great Plains found that from 1995-2012, on 1,094 prescribed burns collectively covering nearly 500,000 acres there were 224 spotfires (20 percent) and 16 escapes (1.5 percent), ranging from less than 0.1 to 2,000 acres in size. 2 ...
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Fire is an important ecological process that maintains prairies, shrublands and forests. Prescribed fire provides and helps maintain quality habitat for native wildlife, improves grazing for livestock, suppresses invasive woody plant growth and reduces wildfire risk on the land. Every year, millions of acres are intentionally and safely burned across the nation. However, there is always the possibility of a spotfire and escaped fire occurring. In some cases, the perceived risk and liability of an escape is enough to prevent prescribed fire use altogether. The best way to prevent a spotfire from becoming an escaped fire is to be prepared and plan ahead.
... A survey of prescribed burn association (PBA) members in the southern Great Plains found only 16 (1.5%) escapes out of 1 094 prescribed burns conducted from 1995 to 2012 and covering 202 342 ha; the escapes ranged from 0.04 to 809 ha, and no insurance claims or lawsuits were filed in response to any of these escapes from sanctioned fires ( Weir et al., 2015). One private prescribed burn contractor working in the southeastern United States reported conducting N 2 000 burns on N 141 640 ha over a 14-yr period with no escapes, insurance claims, or lawsuits (J. ...
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Changing climate and fuel accumulation are increasing wildfire risks across the western United States. This has led to calls for fire management reform, including the systematic use of prescribed fire. Although use of prescribed fire by private landowners in the southern Great Plains has increased during the past 30 yr, studies have determined that liability concerns are a major reason why many landowners do not use or promote the use of prescribed fire. Generally, perceptions of prescribed fire − related liability are based on concerns over legal repercussions for escaped fire. This paper reviews the history and current legal liability standards used in the United States for prescribed fire, it examines how perceived and acceptable risk decisions about engagement in prescribed burning and other activities differ, and it presents unanticipated outcomes in two cases of prescribed fire insurance aimed at promoting the use of prescribed fire. We demonstrate that the empirical risk of liability from escaped fires is minimal (< 1%) and that other underlying factors may be leading to landowners’ exaggerated concerns of risk of liability when applying prescribed fire. We conclude that providing liability insurance may not be the most effective approach for increasing the use of prescribed fire by private landowners. Clearly differentiating the risks of applying prescribed fire from those of catastrophic wildfire damages, changing state statutes to reduce legal liability for escaped fire, and expanding landowner membership in prescribed burn associations may be more effective alternatives for attaining this goal. Fear of liability is a major deterrent to the use of prescribed fire; however, an evaluation of the risks from escaped fire does not support perceptions that using prescribed fire as a land management tool is risky. Prescribed burning associations and agencies that support land management improvement have an important role to play in spreading this message.
... The dominant preference in US fire management is for citizens to evacuate during wildfire events (e.g., Ready, Set, Go!), which reflects agency concerns about public safety, fear of scrutiny, and agency liability (McLennan and Eburn, 2015). Studies investigating cooperative fire management among private property owners predominantly focus on prescribed fire management (e.g., Toledo et al., 2014;Weir et al., 2015Weir et al., , 2016 or Australian examples of bushfire brigades and "stay and defend" programs (e.g., Whittaker and Handmer, 2010). The integration of citizen volunteers into US suppression efforts can occur when RFDs have wildland fire suppression responsibilities, although this interaction is also understudied (McCaffrey et al., 2013). ...
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Policymakers and managers are promoting Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPA) as one way to better incorporate private citizens as active participants who contribute to fire suppression efforts on public rangelands. While the RFPA program is growing in popularity, little is known about the way that RFPAs establish and operate. This is especially true in mosaic management scenarios characterized by fragmented landownerships and a variety of land or fire management entities responsible for wildfire suppression. Our goal was to investigate how an RFPA forms and functions in a management scenario characterized by: 1) proximity to exurban residential development; 2) agreements with multiple local, state, and federal wildfire suppression entities; and 3) a geographically disperse protection district. We conducted in-depth interviews with RFPA members, land or fire management professionals, emergency managers, and local interest groups who interact with the Black Canyon RFPA (BCRFPA) in southwestern Idaho. We found that the BCRFPA leveraged the insights, documents and support of existing RFPAs during their establishment, but ultimately had to adapt the RFPA idea to specific elements of their local context. Members of nearby rural fire districts were initially apprehensive about the formation of the BCRFPA due to concerns about resource competition (e.g., funding and large equipment). RFPA members with professional firefighting experience helped alleviate those tensions by explaining how the RFPA would integrate into existing wildfire management networks. The BCRFPA provided local knowledge about road conditions, water resources, and fuel conditions and initial attack to fill in gaps in landscape-level wildfire protection. However, the proximity of residential areas to the BCRFPA protection district made decisions about fire suppression more complex by introducing trade-offs between residential and rangeland resource protections. Ultimately, our results indicate that RFPAs can help rangeland human populations better adapt to wildfire risk, but that social fragmentation may challenge RFPA functioning.
... 4 We urge experts in the field to inform regulators and insurance companies of actual risks and economic exposure for both prescribed fire and wildfire to determine policy rates. 40 While prescribed fire can mitigate wildfire risk, insurance companies and policy makers have not incorporated the increased fire risks associated with juniper expansion and proximity near buildings into policy offerings. 41 5 It is critical to enlist the assistance of nurseries, highway departments, state forestry departments, and others that continue to sell and plant junipers in the region. ...
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On the Ground: •Despite prescribed fire programs, invasive juniper trees are increasing in the Great Plains.•Continued encroachment of junipers in the Great Plains, especially eastern redcedar and Ashe's juniper, is degrading grasslands and increasing health concerns through pollen production.•Biological and ecological research needs include effects on soil and water as well as restoration potential after a mature invasion is treated.•The interface of social science, ecology, economics, and policy may yield productive approaches to slowing the invasion.
Chapter
Many people have called for Integrated Fire Management that effectively harnesses the power of fire to achieve land management goals. Often this includes using fire, and certainly, it involves managing both short- and long-term effects of fire informed by an understanding of both people and place. In eight case studies from around the globe, local experts describe successful variants of integrated fire management. Their stories illustrate innovative, proactive approaches to managing fires and the ecosystems, including people, in which those fires occur. Integrated Fire Management is different in each location, but it is always focused on long-term effectiveness in meeting strategic objectives, and the most effective practitioners are constantly listening, learning, and adapting while working with many different people. In this way, the case studies illustrate that effective fire management is informed by the scientific principles you’ve learned in prior chapters of our book, Fire science from chemistry to landscape management, but also depends on being flexible and adaptive to local and changing conditions. Such management uses fire as one of the tools to increase the benefits of fire while limiting the negative effects of fire in achieving social-ecological ecosystem goals strategically.
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On the Ground •We surveyed residents across Oklahoma about their awareness of prescribed fire. •Most respondents expressed support for prescribed fire for managing rangelands. •Although there was support for prescribed fire, few individuals implemented it. •Of the several reasons given for not burning, the most common were lack of training, lack of equipment, and choosing not to burn.
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This fact sheet outlines steps that can be taken to reduce risk and manage liability when using prescribed fire.
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Fire ecology has a long history of empirical investigation in rangelands. However, the science is inconclusive and incomplete, sparking increasing interest on how to advance the discipline. Here, we introduce a new framework for qualitatively and quantitatively understanding the ranges of variability in fire regimes typical of experimental investigations in rangeland fire science compared with the range of conditions that actually occurred during contemporary social-ecological times. We implement this framework for one of rangelands’ most pyrogenic systems—the Great Plains of North America. We identify four social-ecological fire eras that have epitomized people’s relationship with wildland fire in the Great Plains since the last glacial maxima. These cultural fire eras include the now-extinct coexistence era (indigenous fire use), the suppression era (extermination of wildland fire occurrence), the shadow era (localized prescribed burning groups), and the emerging wildfire era (resulting from wildland fire management failures, continued decoupling of human-fire ignitions, and global change). Our synthesis demonstrates that experimental fire conditions have not explored the types and ranges of variation in fire regime components responsible for shaping rangeland vegetation—now, in the past, or into the future. Instead, scientific investigations have focused largely on controlling and minimizing sources of uncertainty and experimental variation, essentially eliminating ranges of variation that underpin the functioning of fire in modern social-ecological systems. Yet a series of scientific investigations exist that targeted a wider range of variability in fire regime components, leading to major advancements and the rejection of a number of long-standing rules of thumb in rangeland science and management. These include 1) the manipulation of fire return interval, 2) the pyric herbivory experiments, and 3) the extreme fire trials. We discuss the general philosophy shared among these studies, introduce scientific standards needed to avoid common pitfalls, and highlight opportunities to better understand how rangeland pattern and process correspond to critical ranges of variation in the human-fire relationship.
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Full-text available
Review of NRCS prescribed fire policy and how the agency can increase prescribed fire use across the nation.
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