Process for Getting a Burn on Your Place

(Note: The HCPBA shall not be liable for any damages or fire suppression should the fire escape.)

For those of you who may not have burned on your place yet, here is a list of the steps you need to take to get ready. (Click here to download as a Microsoft Word document.)

  • Discuss your plans with one of our qualified burn plan reviewers who will visit with you to inspect your site. See list of approved plan reviewers on (WHERE?).
  • If you have not already done so, getting your TPWD biologist or Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or NRCS agent to recommend that you have a prescribed burn is helpful for justification.
  • Identify the area to be burned so that a suitable map can be made. Usually this step uses Google Earth. If you can provide a Google Earth picture with the property outlined, that will help. If not, then work with whoever is helping you to get a map.
  • Identify firebreaks needed and any special smoke sensitive issues.
  • Make sure you have suitable insurance. This is likely going to mean Texas Farm Bureau.
  • Start early in the year preparing firebreaks consistent with the early planning. Keep weeds and grasses mowed or shredded during the summer to allow for more effective disking in the fall for winter burns. Start disking as early as you can to insure adequate soil firebreaks. Live vegetation (such as food plots) can be effective firebreaks.
  • Leave room outside the firebreak for passage of vehicles and volunteers, especially on the downwind side. An alternative is to make your firebreak wide enough so that it will accommodate personnel and vehicles without excessive heat.
  • Make a first pass at completing the burn plan using the standard template (see the Forms and Burn Plan Template page. When you have done what you can do, work with the individual who will be reviewing your plan to complete the rest. Try to do as much and learn as much as you can.
  • Complete the burn plan with your trained reviewer and submit it.
  • Prior to the burn, clear out limbs, debris, leaves, or any fuel around trees or structures that you want to save. Special efforts will be required if the trees are hollow and have holes near the bottom.
  • Remove any standing dead trees. It is much easier and safer to take down a dead tree before the burn than it is after it is ignited. In wooded areas, this can be a large job. Do not wait until a week before the planned burn to start working on it.
  • It is better to burn brush piles prior to the prescribed burn. Brush piles can last for days and require considerable mop-up effort.
  • When the burn plan is received and the preparations are complete, begin watching for the right weather forecast. When you see a suitable target day, notify the planned burn boss (usually the same person who reviewed and received your plan) and agree on a target date for the burn.
  • On the day of the burn provide amenities consistent with how long the volunteers will be there. If the burn will take all day, then lunch should be provided. If it is short and can be done in the afternoon, then water, drinks, and some snacks are sufficient.
  • Get a list of all volunteers who attend and provide a copy to the burn boss.
  • Make the calls to the neighbors and the agencies on the morning of the burn to notify them that the burn is about to start.
  • During the burn, stay in communication with the burn boss by radio or physical presence if requested.
  • After the burn, take charge of mop-up operations unless the situation dictates greater expertise than the landowner has. If necessary, the burn boss will continue in charge of mop-up until the job can be left with the landowner. The landowner may need to rent equipment of hire workers to effectively complete the mop-up if it takes several days. The landowner may also need to rent the Prescribed Burn Trailer from TOWMA in LaGrange (WHERE?) or get similar equipment from some other source.
  • Notify dispatch and any others required when the fire is complete.
  • Assist the burn boss with completing and filing the “after burn” report.

In summary, if you are just beginning to plan for a burn, your next steps are:

  • Get your TPWD biologist or NRCS agent to agree that a burn will help you
  • Have someone from HCPBA visit your property and discuss plans in generality
  • Work on your firebreaks
  • Get your plans prepared and reviewed
  • Keep watching the webinars and attending training sessions
  • Wait on the right weather for your burn and be ready to go!