Prescribed burns

As we approach the Fourth of July and watch the wildfires in the western United States, fires and fire safety are a topic of conversation.  It is common for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska to use controlled burns for various land-management purposes.  However, there are some legal obligations to follow prior to igniting a controlled burn.  Not following these obligations results in a Class IV misdemeanor.

Open Burning Permit:

For an open burning, the local fire department issues an open burning permit.  The fire department may adopt standards listing the conditions acceptable for issuing the open burning permit; check with your local fire department if such standards have been adopted.

Land-Management Burning:

Land-management burning is defined as the controlled application of fire to existing vegetative matter on land utilized for grazing, pasture, forest, or grassland to control weeds, pests, insects, and disease, prevent wildland fires, manager watersheds, care for windbreaks, and conduct scientific research.  The local fire chief must approve an application for a permit to burn.  The application for the permit requires a plan for conducting land-management burning.  The plan must include:

  • The name of the landowner;
  • The name of the person who will supervise the burning, if different than the landowner;
  • The land-management objective to be accomplished (e.g. removal of cedar trees);
  • A map showing the areas to be burned, including nature and man-made firebreaks;
  • Procedures to be used to confine the fire in boundary areas without pre-existing firebreaks;
  • A list of equipment that will be on hand;
  • Types and condition of the vegetative matter to be burned on the land and adjacent areas;
  • Identification of roads and habitations (e.g. residences) that may be affected by smoke;
  • A description of weather conditions believed to be required to conduct the burn, including wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity; and
  • Other information as required by the fire chief.

A permit is valid only for thirty days.  A permit is issued if a plan that complies with the above items is submitted and the fire chief determines the burning would be conducted with due regard for the safety of people and property outside the burning areas.

Have any questions?   Feel free to contact us!