Prescribed Burning Regulations
Prescribed fire is one of the simplest and most versatile tools available to land managers, with many economic, environmental, and safety related benefits. However, as the State of Florida becomes more populated, land managers face a growing responsibility to conduct prescribed burning in a manner which minimizes the potential for injury to the public from fire or smoke.
The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require the states to monitor ambient air quality and maintain air quality standards. In Florida, air quality monitoring is conducted through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which can require the Florida Forest Service (FFS) to temporarily suspend open burning in any area where a measured pollutant (particulate, sulfur dioxide, ozone, etc.) exceeds specified limits. See the "State Law" part of this section for more information on FFS fire laws
Despite the increased use of prescribed burning over the last 30 to 40 years, the lack of prescribed burning in previous decades has resulted in a substantial accumulation of living and dead fuels on many acres of forestland across the state.
Big wildfire years, like that of 1998, demonstrated the need to promote and protect prescribed burning across the state and increase cooperation among the agencies involved in fire suppression and prevention. With those objectives, the 1999 Florida Legislature passed a bill that combined and revised all previous statutes related to prescribed burning and fire control. Associated rules in the Florida Administrative Code were also updated and revised. The most important changes focused on:
- increased attention to fuel reduction in interface areas
- increased public education about fire and prescribed burning
- greater liability protection for certified burners
- expanded burn permit conditions
The Florida Prescribed Burning Act directs the FFS to enforce prescribed burning rules, which include several specific requirements pertaining to silvicultural fires. Visit the FFS Florida Forest Service - Prescribed Fire for detailed information on the latest prescribed burning regulations.
Local Ordinances and Contacts
Some local jurisdictions have prior authorization and/or permitting requirements for open burning which landowners and land managers need to be aware of. It is recommended that anyone not familiar with local burning regulations contact their local county/city fire department or environmental office. Information on local open burning rules can also be received through Florida Forest Service district offices.
The Florida Prescribed Burning Act directs the FFS to enforce prescribed burning rules, which include several specific requirements pertaining to silvicultural fires. Visit the Florida Forest Service - Prescribed Fire for detailed information on the latest prescribed burning regulations.
Contact the Florida Forest Service for additional prescribed burning information and authorizations, and updates on wildfire danger.