"The first consideration in prescribed burning is safety, closely followed by effectiveness," says Paul Ohlenbusch, Kansas State University range and pasture management specialist. He provides a checklist to help producers conduct safe and effective spring burns.

Planning the Prescribed Burn


  • Inventory the area to be burned together with the surrounding area for fences, buildings, power lines, water sources, streams, roads and gates. Also, identify physical features within the burn area such as natural barriers (streams, rock ledges, tree lines, and little used roads).
  • Define the desired prescribed burning conditions in terms of wind speed and direction.
  • Determine which weather forecast source will be used.
  • Determine the potential smoke path and develop a management plan.
  • Determine where fire guards will be needed.
  • Determine where the head fires will be lit.
  • Review all regulations and safety requirements during the planning stage.
  • Determine if permits are needed.
  • Determine the manpower needed and who will be available.
  • Determine the equipment needed and what will be available.
  • Develop the notification process to be used.
  • Develop contingency plans for possible escaped fires.


Conducting the Prescribed Burn


  • Monitor weather forecasts and outlooks for several days before the burn.
  • Implement notification plan.
  • Review burning plan with the crew before beginning the burn.
  • Establish the firebreak and widen as needed.
  • When firebreaks are fully prepared, light the head fires as rapidly as possible.
  • Begin mop-up operation as soon as possible.
  • When mop-up is complete, notify fire department and others of the fact.
  • Clean and repair equipment.
  • Review the events of the burn and record unusual fire behavior and other unexpected events.