Prescribed Fire FAQs

Below you will find the answers to commonly asked questions about prescribed fire.

The fire team posing for a group picture.

Prescribed Fire

Am I safe during a prescribed fire?

Fire Managers and Burn Bosses in the Florida Park Service spend time planning and prepping prior to implementing a prescribed fire to ensure both public and firefighter safety.

How are the fire and smoke contained and controlled?

Control lines with fire breaks are established previous to the ignition of the fire. These fire breaks consist of removing all the flammable vegetation from an area twice the expected flame height at the edge of the fire. These lines usually consist of a disked, plowed or mowed line. The smoke is controlled by carefully selecting the days on the which we burn. Weather forecast and advanced smoke modeling tools are utilized in the planning process.

How can I get involved?

The best ways you can get involved is visiting Florida's State Parks and becoming more informed about fire's important natural role.

How do you avoid injuring wildlife?

Due to the nature of a prescribed fire it occurs throughout the duration of a day. Most of the animals have time get out of the area or seek refuge before the burn impacts them directly.

Is a prescribed fire dangerous?

Prescribed fire is a safe and controlled planned management activity. Prescribed fire is implemented by highly trained professionals and is a planned event that takes place under optimal conditions.

What about pollution from the smoke?

As part of the planning process we carefully select which weather parameters will be acceptable to burn under, making sure to avoid impacts to smoke sensitive areas. Prescribed fires mimic a natural process under chosen conditions which help prevent the impacts of smoke.

What happens after the fire?

After the fire, crews are careful to mop up or extinguish any burning and smoking material which could be a threat to the control lines. Staff then monitors the weather and checks the burn area, ensuring there are no holding concerns until the fire is completely out.

What is the difference between a wildfire and a prescribed fire?

The biggest difference between a wildfire and a prescribed fire is that a prescribed fire is a planned event and therefore it occurs under the best possible circumstances.

Wildfires often occur under extreme conditions such as prolonged drought whereas prescribed fires are implemented when the weather and natural conditions are desirable.

Prescribed fire reduces the risk of wildfires by reducing the amount of hazardous natural fuels and fills the important role of maintaining fire in fire dependent natural communities.

Why are some areas burned and others are not?

Florida is a fire adapted landscape with some of the highest numbers of lightning strikes in the country and world. All of this lightning activity historically produced wildfires which Florida's native vegetation has evolved to thrive alongside. Management zones which contain fire dependent natural communities are selected for prescribed fire. The fire return interval in these natural communities ranges between one year and up to 45 years in Florida.

Why can’t you just leave it alone?

The Florida Park Service is tasked with managing approximately 290,000 Fire Type acres of Florida's public lands. This landscape is now fragmented by highways, byways, and housing developments that prevent fires natural process to occur across the landscape. This is why it is crucial for us to implement prescribed fire to ensure that fire dependent species and ecosystems are maintained for future generations enjoyment.