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How to Implement a Burn

1. Consultation and Site Visit

Prior to planning your prescribed burn, it is recommended that you have someone with experience in forestry or prescribed fire provide consultation on your property. They can assist you in identifying your goals for your land and any additional work you might want to consider before getting to the burn planning stage. This could be your local PBA, your Conservation District, a consulting forester, or a DNR stewardship forester.

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2. Develop a Burn Plan

A burn plan is your guide for your prescribed burn. It is an important document that outlines general information about your burn, the weather and fuel parameters, your holding and ignitions plan, a contingency plan, and more. A burn plan is submitted along with your permit.

3. Determine Liability

It is important to understand who has liability at a prescribed burn and how to share, manage, and communicate that between land owner, burn leader, and participants. Your PBA can help you navigate questions of liability.

Learn about Washington laws and liability →

4. Secure a Permit

Permits are likely required for any prescribed burn being conducted in Washington. As a landowner or burn leader, you are responsible for understanding all permit requirements and Washington state laws.

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5. Prep the Burn Unit

Get your burn unit ready! This can include constructing and maintaining control lines, limbing trees, removing fuels and hazards, and setting up water resources.

6. Get Ready!

As the potential burn day gets closer, it’s important to monitor the weather and fuel conditions to determine when your burn unit is ready to go. To secure sufficient people, equipment, and resources to implement your burn safely and effectively, you should coordinate with your local PBA. And of course, you will want to notify your neighbors and others in your community about your plans.

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7. Manage the Fire

Conduct a test fire to determine if the fire and smoke behavior meets your expectations and is within the parameters as outlined in your burn plan and permit. Complete the burn!

8. After Action Review

Once the burn is completed, bring all participants together and conduct an After Action Review to evaluate how the burn went and to capture lessons learned.

9. Post-Fire Stewardship and Monitoring

Did your burn do what you set out to do? What are the impacts of the fire? Capturing information before and after your burn will help you know whether you met your goals.