Prescribed Fire Safety

Proper clothing for prescribed burning

Proper clothing includes long sleeve shirts and long pants that are free of holes, rips, and tears. They should be made of 100 percent cotton, wool, NOMEX™, Indura™ cotton or labeled as FR (fire resistant) clothing. Do not wear any clothing made of nylon, polyester, or other synthetic material. Gloves should be all leather and not oil tanned. Goggles or safety glasses should be worn to protect eyes from smoke, embers, and debris. Footwear should be comfortable and provide protection from heat and uneven surfaces. A helmet is recommended, especially if working in areas with trees. Personnel with long hair should secure it and place inside shirt or under helmet or hat.

Prescribed Fire Orders

Read over the burn plan and go over the burn unit before you begin.
eXtinguish all smoldering objects around the fireline after the burn.
Fire should be set as quickly as possible, but provide for safety first.
Initiate all actions based on current and expected fire behavior.
Recognize current weather forecasts and conditions and obtain information on weather often.
Ensure instructions to crew members are given and understood.
Obtain current information on prescribed fire status during burn.
Remain in communication with all crew members.
Determine proper ignition technique and deployment of personnel and equipment for each burn.
Establish lookouts in potentially hazardous situations.
Retain control at all times.
Stay alert, keep calm, think clearly, act decisively.

Prescribed Burn situations that shout “watch out”

If any of these situations are encountered on a burn they should be watched or changed to prevent injury to personnel or the fire escaping.

  • Burn unit not scouted and sized up.
  • Burn unit not seen in the daylight.
  • Problem areas and potential spotfire areas not identified.
  • Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior.
  • Uninformed on prescribed fire strategy, tactics, and hazards.
  • Instructions and assignments not clear.
  • No communication link with crew leaders and members.
  • Fire break not constructed to bare ground or mineral soil.
  • Lighting fire uphill.
  • Attempting to burn strips on backfire that are too wide.
  • Unburned fuel in backfire area.
  • Cannot see down the fireline and not in contact with anyone who can.
  • Burning within 12 hours of a predicted frontal passage or wind shift.
  • Weather is getting hotter and drier.
  • Wind increasing and or changing direction.
  • Getting frequent spotfires across the firebreak.
  • Fire break, terrain, or fuels too rough for pumper trucks to enter.
  • Stopping to eat lunch.

Go/No-Go Checklist

(use before each burn to make sure everything is ready)

  • Fire plan prepared?
  • Prescribed burn notification plan completed and submitted to local fire department and division of forestry official (if in protection area)?
  • Have all required notifications been made (fire dept, neighbors, etc)?
  • Are all weather parameters met?
  • Have all current and projected weather forecasts been obtained and are they favorable?
  • Adequate personnel available for burn?
  • Equipment operational and available?
  • Smoke management guidelines met?
  • Have all personnel been briefed on objectives, assignments, tactics, hazards and safety?
  • In your opinion can the burn be conducted safely according to the fire plan and will the burn meet the planned objectives?

If the answer to all of these questions is YES, then proceed with burn. If the answer to any of these questions is NO, make corrections or plan the burn for another day.

Handtool safety

  • Use the proper tool for the job.
  • Make sure tools with an edge are sharp.
  • Carry next to the body by the handle, near the head of the tool.
  • Do not carry over the shoulder.
  • Carry handtools on the downhill side when walking across slopes.
  • Keep safe distances among personnel using handtools.
Handtool Safety Image

Do not carry handtools over the shoulder and always keep a safe distance between personnel using them.

Vehicle safety

  • Once the fire starts, do not turn vehicle or pump off.
  • Turn headlights on.
  • Do not drive too fast along firebreaks, even if going to an escaped fire. Remember there are other personnel working there also.
  • Do not drive into areas of thick smoke. Think about who or what may be in it or on the other side?
  • Make sure hoses, nozzles, and equipment are secure in the back of the truck.
Vehicle Safety Image

Do not drive too fast along firebreaks, even if going to an escaped fire. Remember other personnel are work- ing there as well.