Prescribed Burn Program

Yarmouth Fire Department
Yarmouth Division of Natural Resources


The Yarmouth Fire Department and the Yarmouth Division of Natural Resources have teamed up to develop a Prescribed Burn program. This program was a recommendation of the Wildland Fire Protection and Preparedness Plan prepared for the Town of Yarmouth by Joel Carlson and Caren Caljouw.

The three main objectives to the program are to:
1. Reduce fuel loads, which could contribute to uncontrolled wildfire.
2. Provide training in wildland firefighting techniques and tactics.
3. Ecological management and habitat restoration.

Several members of the Fire Department and Division of Natural Resources have undergone specialized wildland firefighting training as part of this program.

A prescribed burn is carefully planned, controlled and executed to minimize fire escaping beyond predetermined boundaries and to lessen the impact of smoke on adjacent residential areas, which go unchecked with uncontrolled wildfire.

Funding for the program was obtained through a grant received by the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and administered by Officer Bill Bonnetti of the Yarmouth Division of Natural Resources.

The Wildland Fire Protection and Preparedness Plan was developed for the purpose of identifying the threat posed by uncontrolled wildfire on town owned lands. The report specifically identified 2,078 acres of town owned lands, which make up the wildland urban interface. There are also several privately owned lands which were not part of the Wildland Fire Protection and Preparedness Plan that pose a significant wildland urban interface threat.

Over the years development has increased and there are now hundreds of structures that lie within the urban interface on town owned and private lands. Under the right conditions a wildland fire can burn with intensities that can escape initial fire control measures and threaten homes, businesses, recreation and conservation areas. Burning embers may be carried by wind hundreds of feet from the main body of fire and create spot fires.

To combat the threat of uncontrolled wildand fire, the Wildland Fire Protection and Preparedness Plan recommends the use of prescribed fire and mechanical brush cutting the reduce fuel loads. Fire experts recommend conducting burns at regular intervals to reduce fuel loads. Generally prescribed burns are more efficient and less labor intensive than mechanical brush cutting. A trained fire crew can treat several acres per day making it much more cost effective than a mechanical brush clearing operation treating substantially less acres per day.

*Technical information for this report was obtained form the Wildland Fire Protection and Preparedness Plan June 13, 2008 by J. Carlson and C. Caljouw. The enire report may be viewed at http://www.capecodextension.org