Standard Operating
Procedures
Requirements
Guidelines
  1. Fire Shelters
  2. Communications
  3. Mechanized Equipment
  4. Weather Forecast
  5. Burning After Dark
  6. On-site Weather Monitoring
  7. Crew Size
  8. Burn Size
  9. Crew Briefing
  10. Test Fire
  11. Post-burn Critique
  12. Post-burn Departure
 
  Fire Management Guidelines

These guidelines establish standards for controlled burn operations. All personnel responsible for conducting prescribed burns for The Nature Conservancy should consider each of these guidelines during the burn planning process. Guidelines differ from Fire Management Requirements in that they may not apply to all burns, but, like requirements, it is mandatory that each guideline be considered in the planning process.

If a guideline is not justified or appropriate for a given burn, an exemption or modification can be made by the Fire Manager. Exemptions to any of the guidelines must be justified in writing and approved by the designated individual. During the review process, the Fire Manager should look for explicit criteria that will mitigate for the modification or waiver. For example, if the use of an engine is not possible on a prescribed burn due to access limitations, do crew size, crew qualifications, prescription parameters, or other specifications take this into account and mitigate for the lack of a mechanized water delivery system?

There are 12 Fire Management Guidelines:

1. Fire Shelters

Fire shelters should be available to and worn by all crew members unless the burn plan states and justifies that they are not necessary. There is no blanket exemption for multiple burns. Even on burns where their use is waived, a shelter should be available to any crew member who desires one.

2. Communications

All burns must have two-way radios. At a minimum there should be a radio for the Burn Boss, each line boss/squad boss, and each engine. A cellular phone should be on site. The nearest land-line telephone should be noted in the burn plan.

3. Mechanized Equipment

A backup water delivery system must be available for all fires on which containment is dependent on mechanized water delivery. The exact nature of the backup water system is dependent on the individual burn and must be described in the burn plan. Backup systems may include, for example, an engine, an ATV with a spray rig, and/or portable pumps and hose. The intent of the guideline is to ensure a reasonable backup water supply is available in case of mechanical or vehicle failure of the primary water source. Where appropriate, other standby mechanized fire suppression equipment may be used for backup, such as a dozer.

4. Weather Forecast

The Burn Boss should have a professional weather forecast obtained the day of the burn that predicts appropriate weather will hold at least two hours past the expected duration of the burn.

5. Burning After Dark

If a burn is expected to begin or continue after dusk, it must be so stated and approved in the burn plan. No burn operations should continue after dark unless each crew member has a headlamp or other light source. The permitting/authorization processes of some states may be more restrictive than this guideline. This information should be covered in the Review of Laws and Regulations.

6. On-site Weather Monitoring

Wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, and ambient air temperature should be monitored at intervals throughout the burn. Use tables, computer programs, fuel sticks, or direct measurement to estimate burn-time fuel moisture.

7. Crew Size

All burns should have at least 6 qualified personnel, including the Burn Boss. Adequate numbers of personnel will serve needed functions on a burn, including: command, ignition, holding, contingency initial attack, and other (spotters, weather and fire behavior monitoring, communications). Qualified personnel may serve multiple operational functions as directed by the Burn Boss. No individual should directly oversee more than six crew members (span of control).

8. Burn Size

Urban burns should not exceed 100 acres. Urban burns are those within 1/2 mile of a town limit or urban population center. The carrier of our smoke insurance requested this criterion.

9. Crew Briefing

Before ignition, the Burn Boss will conduct a crew briefing for all personnel on a burn.

10. Test Fire

A test fire should precede all burns.

11. Post-Burn Critique/After Action Review

A post-burn critique to discuss the day's operations should follow every burn. The After Action Review (AAR) found in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) can be followed or another suitable format may be used. The Burn Boss should capture the key lessons learned from the burn, especially what went well and what went poorly. Capturing these in writing fosters further reflection, leading to learning and improvement for future burns.

12. Post-Burn Departure

All fires should be monitored until they are completely out. It is the responsibility of the Burn Boss to determine when it is safe to dismiss the fire crew and to assign personnel to monitor the fire. The criteria for this decision should be included in the burn plan.

Last updated November 30, 2014.

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