Equipment

From "Managing Michigan's Wildlife: A landowner's guide"

Basically three kinds of equipment are needed for prescribed burning:

  1. tools to ignite the fire
  2. tools to control the fire 
  3. safety equipment

A drip torch, a can of liquid fuel with a long spout, burning lightly at the end, may be used to start and spread the fire. It will drop a three to one fuel oil-gas mixture on the grass at a steady rate. This allows for a continuous fire line, and quicker, more efficient fire application than a fire rake. 

To control (mop up) your fire properly, fire swatters, 12 inch X 18 inch pieces of reinforced rubber attached to a handle, or fire brooms, are great to smother small grass fires. A backpack water pump can be teamed up with a swatter for maximum efficiency. The pump operator would lead knocking down larger flames (using a spray for cooler fires and a stream for hotter ones) while the swatter can follow up making sure the fire is put out. To aid in the extinction of the fire, one quart of dishwashing detergent can be added to 50 gallons of water (one tablespoon of detergent to one gallon). This mix helps the water to "cling" to the grass fuel. Low-pressure, field crop sprayers with handgun nozzles can work for small burn areas that have safe boundaries, as well as backpack and herbicide sprayers. An all-terrain vehicle can also be helpful for carrying extra tools or tanks of water to your site. If high-pressure pumps are used, then water should be rationed to prevent it from running out partway through the burn. If a wetland, pond, stream, or other water source is near the burn site, then pumps and sprayers will be easy to refill. 

Safety equipment is also very important. Make sure that a first aid kit and plenty of drinking water are always nearby. Poorly managed burns or ignorance of safety measures can lead to property damage, and even injury or death. Even in well-managed burns accidents can occur. Before, during, and after every burn, safety should be the major consideration. Proper clothing can also add a measure of safety. Fireproof Nomex pants and shirts are essential. Leather boots and gloves, along with eye protection, should be worn at all times. Never wear synthetic fibers like nylon, which can melt and stick to skin. A long sleeve shirt, a hard hat, and long pants, will keep you safe from radiant heat and flare-ups. The more skilled the burn crew is the more likely the fire will be controlled and thus beneficial. Generally, three or four people are needed on each fireline (more if safety may be challenged). One will ignite the fire and be in charge of operations (the fire boss), one or two should keep the fire on its correct path, and any others should help mop-up (extinguish flare ups or escaped flames).