Controlled Burning

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What is controlled burning?


Controlled burning is any fire intentionally ignited to meet specific land management objectives, such as to reduce flammable fuels, restore ecosystem health, recycle nutrients, or prepare an area for new trees or vegetation. Controlled burning is a management tool that when used under specifically controlled conditions will help land stewards manage forests and rangelands for multiple use.

Land management agencies have done a tremendous job educating the public about the dangers of wildland fire and reducing the number of human caused fires. However, it is important to realize that not all fire is bad. In fact, many of our ecosystems are dependent on fire.

  1. Fire historically crept through these areas with low intensity.
  2. Every 5 to 15 years, fire regenerated the forest and cleansed the understory of potential hazardous fuels. These historic fires were not the devastating wildfires of recent years.
  3. Frequent cool fires acted as a natural agent reducing surface fuels and all but eliminated large, stand replacing, fire events that have become too frequent during the last three decades.

Fire exclusion practices have resulted in forests being plagued with a variety of problems, including overcrowding resulting from encroachment of species normally eliminated by fire; vulnerability of trees to insects and disease; and inadequate reproduction of fire resistant species. In addition, heavy accumulation of fuel -- dead vegetation of forest floors-- can cause catastrophic fires, threaten public safety, impair forests and ecosystem health, and degrade air quality.

The Forest Service has made it a priority to reintroduce fire into fire dependent ecosystems to help promote ecosystem health. Controlled burning is viewed by the land management agencies as an agent of change that helps "mother nature" return an ecosystem to its historic range.

When to Use "Controlled Burning"

Understanding fire is a science. The ability to know when an ecosystem is ready for controlled burning is science. When a land management agency restores fire to a given area, they first must define the objectives that the fire would achieve. There are also many elements of nature that must be just right to meet the objectives of controlled burning, from both dead and live fuel moistures, air temperature, to wind speed and humidity. This is referred to as the "burn window," the preplanned condition targeted for burning. Due to the uncertainty of these natural elements, fire specialists monitor the critical elements of nature.

How fire affects air quality depends on many factors, including weather conditions, such as wind and humidity; the scope and severity of the fire; and the type and quantity of fuels burned.

Smoke contains a number of pollutants. Tiny particles created from the smoke is a concern because it can cause serious health problems. Smoke also adversely affects the clarity of our air, which in turn, affects the distance and sharpness of what we see.

Unplanned or unwanted fires can pose serious threats to public health and safety, as well as to air quality. Because these fires are uncontrolled, they can pose significant threats to the safety of firefighters and the general public, as well as destroy property.

On the other hand, planned or managed fires, are used to minimize the emissions and adverse impacts of smoke on public health and the environment. Many techniques are used to manage the impacts from smoke, including scheduling burning during favorable weather conditions and controlling the amount of fuel and acreage burned. In addition, all planned fire activities are already subject to state air quality regulations.

Premo psd

The Premo Plastic Sphere Dispenser (PSD) is a compact and dependable aerial ignition device dispenser. Made of aluminum, it is designed to safely inject Premo Fireballs with ethylene glycol and accurately release them over targeted areas.

The Premo PSD is mounted on our Bell 206BIII which offer a stable platform. Each sphere is injected with ethylene glycol before being expelled from the aircraft and landing in the target area, to guarantee ignition seconds later.

As a safety feature, the Premo PSD is equipped with a 3.25L water reservoir that is engineered to extinguish a potential fire within the injecting area. Jams are quickly cleared so that downtime is minimized and air time is maximized.




Premo Fireballs provide a safe and reliable ignition source for fire operations. Using potassium permanganate, the Fireballs release enough heat energy and deliver enough burn time to light difficult fuel sources in variable moisture conditions. This ensures less gaps in your perfectly dropped fire line for maximum control in risky burn operations.

Premo Fireballs are engineered with an internal mixing system to ensure that ignition chemicals are combined optimally. This gives you maximum spark on every drop. In order to guarantee ignition consistency, our quality control program monitors all aspects of production. Every Premo Fireball is optically scanned before being packed and shipped from our factory.

Premo Fireballs are 32 mm (1.25 in.) in diameter, consisting of approximately 3.0 grams of potassium permanganate. The rate of chemical reaction is dependent upon the particle size of the potassium permanganate and the concentration of the ethylene glycol. Combustion occurs within approximately 20 seconds of the sphere’s injection with approximately 1 ml of common automotive coolant (ethylene glycol).