Northeast Region Fire Program
Northeast Region
Firefighter Steve Stack from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge pulls a hose to help maintain a fire line around a controlled burn. Credit: Brad Knudsen/USFWS
Controlled Fire

We use controlled burns to eliminate excess live and dead plants in an area that make it more prone to wildfire. By reducing the vegetation, the risk of wildfire is reduced, making an area safer. Controlled burns also benefit plants and wildlife by returning nutrients to the soil quickly, and killing some invasive plant species. But how can starting fires be safe? A controlled burn is a carefully planned and executed event. Long before we strike a match, highly qualified fire teams complete a burn plan outlining the areas to be burned. They make fire breaks to prevent an escaped fire and carefully choose days when weather conditions help control the flames while still allowing an effective burn. Air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and vegetation moisture must all be within safe limits. If the conditions are not right, the fire is not set! We will reschedule the burn for a better day or use other methods to improve the habitat.

We have been doing controlled burning safely, cost-effectively, and regularly on a landscape-scale since the 1930s.View a video about controlled burning on National Wildlife Refuges.

Watch this video on YouTube

Last updated: April 25, 2014