Frequently Asked Questions

What is a prescribed fire?
Prescribed fires, also known as Rx burns or controlled burns, refer to the intentional, controlled, and planned application of fire to a landscape under specified weather conditions to restore health to ecosystems that depend on fire. Click here for the Forest Service’s page on prescribed fire. Prescribed fire includes underburning, broadcast burning, and pile burning.

Is a prescribed fire a wildfire?
No. A wildfire is an unplanned fire lit by a person or natural causes. Wildfires lit by people, whether intentional (a.k.a. arson) or by accident, will always be suppressed by firefighting resources. Wildfires lit by natural causes, like lightning, however can benefit the landscape and reduce fuel loading naturally. Lightning fires are generally suppressed unless they are deep in a wilderness area, away from human infrastructure.

Is prescribed fire dangerous?
With the proper experience, burn plan, equipment, and number of people, a prescribed fire can be very safe. But as with high risk activities, such as driving a car or riding a bike, comes inherent risk.

What is a prescribed burn association (PBA)?
PBAs are “community-based mutual aid networks” for prescribed fire where individual community members volunteer their time help each other plan, prep, and burn their land.

How can I use prescribed fire on my property?
Click here or contact a PUC coordinator and they will be able to explain the process.

Does PUC have liability coverage?
No. PUC is simply a group of people that can advise and help a landowner implement prescribed fire on their property. Liability generally falls on the landowner and sometimes on the burn boss.

What can prescribed fire do to benefit my property?
Prescribed fire can do many things. It can reduce the risk of wildfire on your property, remove invasive species, promote native species (trees, wildflowers, animals), bring neighbors together, and more.

Do I need any experience to participate in a PUC burn?
No! Attending a prescribed fire with PUC is a great way to learn how prescribed fires work: we think learning on-the-job is the best way to learn. Generally new practitioners will be placed with more experienced folks.

What should I wear to a PUC burn?
Please always wear cotton long sleeve t-shirts, cotton pants, leather gloves, and primarily leather boots. Natural fibers (cotton, wool, leather) are naturally flame resistant and are appropriate to wear. Unlike what you may see firefighters wearing on the news, PUC does not require any “Nomex” or synthetic flame-resistant clothing.

Do my boots need to be all-leather?
No, but it is highly recommended. Partial-leather boots, like common hiking boots, are fine for most PUC activities, just be careful of dripping torch fuel on your boots or stepping in hot ash. Hot fuel and ash can melt synthetic fabrics and/or melt the glue on the soles of your boots. Here is a list we compiled of all-leather boots that meet NFPA 1977 Standard on protective clothing for Wildland Firefighting (8 inches tall, all-leather, lace up, vibram-style sole).

What is TREX?
TREX stands for Prescribed Fire Training Exchange. It is a program, originally started by a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the USDA Forest Service, designed to train wildland fire professionals and other natural resource managers on how to implement prescribed fire in regional settings. In Plumas County we have the Plumas Cal-TREX, which focuses on regional capacity building, meaning participants can assist the Plumas National Forest on federal burns and Forest Service employees can assist in prescribed fire on private land.
Plumas Cal-TREX occurs every spring with some NWCG courses, an Arduous Work Capacity Test, non-standardized classes and activities, and plenty of knowledge sharing. After attending one of these some of these workshops, you are usually placed on an on-call burn crew that is notified of potential burning opportunities on both public and private land through an email list.

Is Plumas Cal-TREX the same thing as PUC?
No. While many PUC members participate in the local TREX every year, TREX is an event, while PUC is a group. Sometimes TREX participants will help PUC implement prescribed fire.

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