Landowners perform what is commonly known as control burning to reduce the hazards of widespread fire on their land. I know starting a fire to reduce the risk of fire damage seems foolish. I thought so too until I realized the benefits of a controlled burn.
When a wildfire breaks out in the Forrest it is started in the underbrush. Whether we are talking about a National Forrest or forested land on someones property the result from fire damage is the same. Fire damage as a result of wildfires is a risk and hazard to the rural landowner.
People who live in the country are aware of the risks associated with fire. A house and outbuildings can be consumed in minutes as a fire rages out of control. Volunteer fire departments have excellent response times in a rural setting, however, 15 minutes of uncontrolled fire is 15 minutes to long. A landowner who responsibly starts their own fires can reduce the risk of a fire breakout on their property.
Back-burning is the most common method of controlled burning. Controlled burns using the back-burning method are started with small fires that are meant to burn back from a fire front. Back-Burning reduces the amount of organic flammable material that could be a hazard if a bushfire breaks out on a property.
Leaves, prairie grasses and other organic material such as fallen branches are a hazard to the property owner. Removing this material to a prescribed area and burning it has many advantages.
The fire is started with the property owner present to watch for any dangers.
The burn area is prepared with a natural or man made firebreak to prevent the fire from jumping to a dangerous area.
Property owners who control burn provide a fertilizer for their land.
Controlled burns started in the right season will reduce the risk of fire outbreak during droughts.
Some plants can only be grown after a fire breaks down seed coatings.
Controlled burns reduce the risk of damage to the soil from extremely hot fires.
Low intensity fires set in designated areas are the prescribed method of clearing land of wildfire hazards. Certain states require a permit for controlled burns and a property owner should check with their local fire department for codes and laws.
Controlled burns should be performed through late fall into early spring. Controlled burns during these times reduces the likelihood of out of control fires. Control burns should be performed during low wind conditions to prevent the fire from spreading into other areas.