A Prescribed Burning a Day Keeps the Wildfire Away

A Prescribed Burning a Day Keeps the Wildfire Away
Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 12:56:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Although wildfires very aren't active now, we're still seeing quite a bit of fire activity in our area.

This fire activity is is actually prescribed burning on certain plots of land, and is very helpful in preventing larger wildfires.

Both the Florida Forest Service and the Prescribed Fire Training Center in Tallahassee work tirelessly on these burns in an effort to help keep majors wildfires away from the area.

Flying ash and billowing smoke. A positive sign of a fire burning, though not always a welcome sight. However, in the case of a prescribed burn, the smoke, fire and ash are good things.

"Generally, prescribed fire smoke is a little whiter and lighter in color than wildfire smoke, which tends to be darker," said John Fish, fire chief for Florida Forest Service. "That's not in every case. We just ask folks to look for signage in the area. Sometimes signs will actually say 'Prescribed Fire. Do not report.'"

It may seem counter-intuitive to be burning land, but that is actually what prevents major wildfires. 

These prescribed fires are all a natural part of the ecosystem and the wildlife have adapted to them, whether it's the bark of pine trees being fire resistant, or deer running away.

Today's burn at the Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park was all about clearing out invasive species and underbrush.

"We target the species that we manage as a part using fire and it generally reduces what we call the available fuel load--those things that are available to burn out there," said Fish. 

Within days of a prescribed burn, the area will begin to have healthier vegetation grow back, which allows for the wildlife to eat more food without the need to avoid downed tree limbs and undergrowth.

Each plot of land will typically be burned every 2-5 years to clear out any underbrush. 

Florida leads the nation in the amount of land treated with prescribed fire burning. Even though most of these burns occur in the fall and winter months, it is not uncommon to see prescribed fires all year round.