CFAES Give Today

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Wildland Fire Management Course Conducts Prescribed Burn

Nov. 17, 2014
Students in this semester’s Wildland Fire Management Laboratory (ENR 3335.02) taught by SENR Associate Professor Roger Williams and Mike Bowden conducted a prescribed prairie burn at the Gwynne Conservation Area in London, Ohio.
The prescribed prairie burn is one part of student’s learning and training to receive federal Red Card certification and reinforces subject material learned in ENR 3335.01 (Wildland Fire Management). Red Card certification is required before an individual can work on wildland fires or prescribed fires. 

ENR 3335.02 Students on the day of the prescribed burn.

Meeting a professional development need
Red Card certification is becoming more of a requirement for many natural resource management jobs as prescribed burns are increasingly used as a management tool in a variety of ecosystem contexts, said Williams, who has been teaching this course for 8 years. To become certified, students must pass the S-130 and S-190 federal exams administered in ENR 3335.01 and ENR 3335.02 and pass a physical fitness test.
The training portion of the burn included fire line construction, hose lays, water pump operations, water nozzle operation, practice fire shelter deployment, the use of fire ignition devices, and mop-up operations. Students were also able to observe fire behavior under the weather and fuel conditions at that time. 

Students construct a fire line by using two different methods taught in class, including the one-lick (progressive) method and the bump-up (leapfrog) method. 


Students conduct progressive hose lays to provide water in strategic areas if necessary in the event of the fire jumping the fire lines.

According to Williams, “Fire has long been an ecosystem process of prairie systems.  It eliminates non-native grasses and woody vegetation that encroaches into these systems.  Without fire these prairies will slowly disappear over time.”  He also notes, “Fire removes excess leaf litter, thatch and duff which allow more plants to flower, produce seed, and grow taller.  It also increases available nutrients through indirect stimulation of microbial activity in the soil and releasing nutrients from the ash.  Depending upon the prairie type and its geographic location, prairies burned anywhere from 2 to 5 times per decade.”
Wildland Fire Management Laboratory (ENR 3335.02) is offered during the autumn semester.    
Source:  Roger Williams
Photos courtesy of Roger Williams.
Link to prescribed prairie burn video
November 2014