Training Aims to Prevent Out-of-Control Burns


Windy and dry conditions combine for a dangerous fire threat. Nebraska has seen out of control fires spread by harsh wind in the past few weeks.

Wednesday, training was held to prevent planned burns from getting out of hand.

"If they don't have this information they probably shouldn't be trying to do burning on their own," said Ryan Lodge at Pheasants Forever.

Farmer and rancher Tom Hartman is looking for some company on his next burn.

"I need some help doing some burns and this is a good place to meet people who have the same interests as I do," said the Grand Island man.

Experts say having enough people to monitor a fire is key and a concern for those who attend training.

"Liability is one of them, but landowners that are not tied with local prescribed burn associations their biggest concerns are: 'I don't know how to burn. I don't have the training. I don't have enough manpower to do it, not enough people to help me. And I don't have the proper equipment to do it,'" said Lodge.

They do have reasons to burn. For Hartman, it's pasture and wildlife habitat improvement and cedar tree control.

"If you look across Nebraska there's a lot of range land that's been invaded with eastern red cedar, which takes away from their grazing production," said Lodge.

Before they tackle those trees, experts say it's important to have a plan, a safety route, good weather conditions and a communication strategy. They say most prescribed burns shouldn't be declared out for at least 24 hours.

Those are just a few of the tips they take away from a day–long training session.

"I did learn some good stuff, some different techniques and different ways to control your fire," said Hartman.

"Fire is important to them," said Lodge. "They make that part of their operation to improve it for more income for them, for cleaning up pastures and improving forage quality; so it's important for them to take time out of their busy days to learn how to implement that on their operation."

Six years ago, Pheasants Forever identified a need for this kind of training. Since then, they've been teaming up with other agencies to hold workshops across the state.