Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service urge caution due to increased wildfire danger this spring and encourage support for prescribed fire during Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, which is from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4. Prescribed fire is a vital tool used to reduce wildfire risk in Florida.
“Following one of the most active wildfire seasons in recent history and a devastating hurricane season, forecasts predict an extremely dry spring,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “It is more important than ever to support our wildland firefighters as they conduct prescribed burns to protect Floridians and reduce wildfire risk.”
Prescribed fire uses slow-moving, low-grade fire to reduce the brush and overgrowth that would otherwise serve as fuel for a dangerous wildfire. By using prescribed fire in an area that poses a high wildfire risk, a future wildfire in the same area will be less intense, less dangerous and easier to extinguish. Additionally, prescribed fires return nutrients to the soil, provide better forage for wildlife and livestock, and help control certain plant and tree diseases.
“As we oversee the most robust prescribed burn program in the country, our top priority is the safety of our residents, visitors and wildland firefighters,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “Smoke from a nearby prescribed fire may be inconvenient, but it is important to remember that this brief inconvenience helps keep potentially life-threatening wildfires at bay.”
The Florida Forest Service administers the most active prescribed burning program in the nation. In an average year, the Florida Forest Service issues 85,000 prescribed burning authorizations. In addition, there are currently more than 1,600 certified prescribed burn managers in Florida that manage more than 2.3 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually with prescribed fire.
Floridians can download the Florida Forest Service’s “FLBurnTools” app to access an interactive fire map that shows prescribed burns, smoke dispersion models, drought information and wildfire conditions in real-time. Prescribed burn practitioners can also use the app to plan and submit authorization requests. The app is now available in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.