Georgia Forestry Commission
5645 Riggins Mill Road
Dry Branch, Georgia 31020
1-800-GATREES or (478) 751-3500

A Guide for
Prescribed Fire in Southern Forests

United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Southern Region, February 1989; Technical Publication R8-TP 11

Rewritten in 1988 by Dale D. Wade, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station; and James D. Lunsford, Fire Management, Southern Region, USDA Forest Service
Originally written in 1966 by Merlin J. Dixon, Southern Region, USDA Forest Service.
1973-1979 revisions, lead author Hugh E. Mobley, Southern Region, USDA Forest Service.

Photo assistance was provided by the Alabama Forestry Commission; Georgia Forestry Commission; North Carolina Forest Service; USD1 Fish and Wildlife Service, Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge; South Carolina Commission of Forestry; Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Southern Region, and Southern Forest Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service; Tall Timbers Research Station; Union Camp Corporation; and Westvaco Corporation.

Appreciation is expressed to the various State and Federal agencies, private industries and other organizations for their helpful reviews and cooperation.

Sponsored for NWCG publication by the Prescribed Fire and Fire Effects Working Team, February 1990, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. Additional copies may be ordered from: Boise Interagency Fire Center, ATTN: Supply, 3905 Vista Avenue, Boise, Idaho 83705. Order NFES # 2108.

Prescribed Burning is Fire ...

  • Applied in a skillful manner
  • Under exacting weather conditions
  • In a definite place
  • To achieve specific results

The Objective of this Prescribed Burning Guide

To help resource managers plan and execute prescribed burns in Southern forests by:

  • Explaining the reasons for prescribed burning.
  • Emphasizing the environmental effects.
  • Explaining the importance of weather in prescribed burning
  • Describing the various techniques of prescribed burning.
  • Giving general information pertaining to prescribed burning.

This guide provides basic information needed to help you become technically proficient in the proper use of prescribed fire. A glossary toward the end of this manual will help you with unfamiliar terms. To learn more about the subject of prescribed fire, a list of suggested reading follows the glossary. Nearby State and Federal resource management agencies are also excellent sources of information. Many of these agencies provide periodic training in fire behavior and prescribed fire.



Reasons for Prescribed Fire in Forest Resource Management

Environmental Effects

Weather and Fuel Considerations

Firing Techniques

Smoke Management

Planning the Prescribed Burn

Preparing for the Prescribed Burn

Executing the Burn

Evaluating the Burn

Coordination of Burning

Rules of Thumb

Red Flag Situations


Suggested Reading

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