In addition to a discussion of fire ecology, fire management, and fire policy, we may cover some of the following material.

Management Implications (current uses of fire)

All communities:
  • Maintain or increase species diversity
  • Maintain "historically accurate" community via maintenance of fire regime
  • Control undesirable shrubs
  • Remove dead debris
  • Increase forge yield, palatability
  • Increase utilization of coarse species
  • Alter species composition
  • Conversion to grasslands
  • Wildfire prevention
  • Remove needle layer
  • Remove dead woody debris--> fire hazard decreases
  • Control shrubs
Why fire is not used:

Efficacy usually < chemical/mechanical

Perception that forage is "wasted" via combustion



Inadequate fine fuel

Planning and conducting prescribed fires

Popularity of prescribed burning has increased in the last 20 yr:

other manipulations are more expensive

fire can be used to accomplish of multiple objectives

usually preferred vs. herbicides from an environmental standpoint

Firing techniques

headfire: burns with gradient (slope, wind)

backfire: burns against gradient

flank fire: burns parallel to gradient

strip headfire: strips of fire ignited to burn into previously lit strips

most common ignition technique

rapid ignition of large area

good control over intensity

strip width decrease--> intensity decrease


Belt weather kit

Ignition source:
  • matches
  • burning cloth scraps
  • fusees (i.e., highway flares)
  • drip torch (most common)
  • propane backpack torch/flame-thrower
  • terra-torch
  • aerial ignition device (potassium permanganate + ethylene glycol--> exothermic reaction)
  • helitorch
  • laser
Suppression equipment:
  • wet burlap sacks
  • hand tools (shovels, rakes, pulaskis)
  • backpack pump
  • pumper truck

Additional Information (also see assigned readings):

Ffolliott, P.F., DeBano, L.F., Baker, M.B., Jr., Gottfried, G.J., Solis-Garza, G., Edminster, C.B., Neary, D.G., Allen, L.S., and Hamre, R.H. (technical coordinators). 1996. Effects of fire on Madrean province ecosystems: a symposium proceedings. USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Experiment Station General Technical Report RM-289, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Fire Effects Information System

Hesseln, H. 2000. The economics of presribed burning: a research review. Forest Science 46:322-334.

Johnson, E.A. and Gutsell, S.L. 1994. Fire frequency models, methods and interpretations. Advances in Ecological Research 25:239-287.

Rasmussen, G.A., G.R. McPherson, and H.A. Wright. 1988. Economic comparison of aerial and ground ignition techniques for rangeland prescribed fires. Journal of Range Management 41:413-415.

Wright, H.A. and Bailey, A.W. 1982. Fire Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

USDA Forest Service. 2000. Living with fire. Interactive fire management game, supported on Explorer only. Click here.

Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center