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 AAR
  12. Post-burn Departure
  13. Burn Documentation
  14. Drones on Burns
 
  Fire Management Guidelines

These guidelines establish standards for planned burning activities. All personnel responsible for conducting prescribed burns for The Nature Conservancy must consider each of these guidelines during the burn planning process. Guidelines differ from Fire Management Requirements in that they may not apply to  situations such as wildfire suppression. Guideline can be modified or exempted by the relevant Fire Manager with justification.

If a guideline is not appropriate for a given burn, an exemption or modification can be made by the Fire Manager in writing within the relevant approved burn plan. During the review process, the Fire Manager should look for explicit mitigating criteria for the modification or exemption. 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 14 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 of >5,000 population. The management of smoke is the primary focus of concern for 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.

13. Burn Documentation

Documentation for all burns will be retained for a minimum of one year; or longer as directed by any business need for the information. Burn documentation will include:

    Prescribed Burn Plan a copy of the reviewed and approved plan must be on-site and available for personnel to review
    Go/NoGo Checklist a completed checklist is signed and dated by the burn boss; post-burn checklists may be separate and completed later than the Go/NoGo, Briefing, and Test Fire checklists
    Burn Unit Map a map of the actual area(s) burned and an indication of any changes made to the planned burn area
    Weather forecast paper or electronic copy of the forecast consulted before burn activities
    On-site weather weather readings and observations taken at or near the burn area as-needed, before, during, and after the burn
    Crew roster names and affiliation of all personnel participating in the burn, including observers and supervised participants
    Org chart arrangement and organization of personnel
    Timeline a record of the date and times of key events of the burn, including crew briefing, test fire, ignition, mop-up, incidents of note, and post-burn departure.
    Fire behavior photos, video, or written notes of Rate of Spread (ROS) and Flame Length (FL) in dominant fuel types
    Burn Objectives qualitative notes of fire behavior and first-order fire effects relative to the goals and objectives listed in the burn plan or Incident Action Plan (IAP)

14. Drones on Burns

The use of drones on burns must be:

    Listed in the burn unit plan or in an IAP developed by the burn boss
    Operated by a person with the appropriate FAA license
    Integrated into the org chart and communications plan of the burn
    Included in crew briefings and relevant safety messages
    Incorporated into landowner permissions for burns off of TNC owned or managed lands

Last updated October 10, 2019.

The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 53-0242652) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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