• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Prescribed Fire - Ingredients

Firefighters attending a briefing before the start of a prescribed burn.

Firefighters attending a briefing before the start of a prescribed burn.

A management-ignited prescribed fire (also called a prescribed or controlled burn) is a calculated and carefully planned event. Fire managers construct a fire plan that considers elements such as wind conditions, weather, season, humidity, the amount of moisture in the dead vegetation, and the quantity and availability of fuel (natural build up of leaf litter and woody growth). As part of the plan, fire managers determine how hot the fire will burn and in what direction it will travel. Using that information, managers carefully station each member of the fire crew so that the fire site is well managed and the crew is safe. A fire plan includes precautions to prevent the fire from becoming an uncontrolled wildfire. In addition, a fire plan specifies emergency procedures to handle an uncontrolled fire, should it become necessary. At a meeting prior to the prescribed burn, the fire manager outlines the details of the fire plan so that all crew members know their role in this concerted effort. In addition, all supplies are inventoried and checked for proper operation.

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.