The Prescribed Burning Act (Section 9-13-270) outlines the rights of landowners to use prescribed burning and to address burner liability.
The law expressly states that “Prescribed Burning is a landowner property right and a land management tool that benefits the safety of the public, the environment, the natural resources, and the economy of Alabama.” (Section 9-13-271(a)) This statement means that the proper use of prescribed burning can only be restricted by a statutory law passed by the legislature and not by any agency regulations.
The law defines prescribed burning as: “The controlled application of fire to naturally occurring vegetative fuels for ecological, silvicultural, agricultural and wildlife management purposes, under specified environmental conditions and following appropriate precautionary measures which cause the fire to be confined to a pre-determined area and accomplishes planned land management objectives.” (Section 9-13-272-2).
The primary purpose of the law is to reduce the liability associated with prescribed burning if the burner chooses to become certified and follows the requirements of the law.
Section 9-13-273(a) of the law states: "No property owner or his or her agent, conducting a prescribed burn in compliance with this article, shall be liable for damages or injury caused by fire or resulting smoke unless it is shown that the property owner or his or her agent failed to act within that degree of care required of others similarly situated.
For protection under this Act, the following requirements must be met:
- The burn is to be accomplished only when at least one Certified Prescribed Burn Manager is supervising the burn or burns that are being conducted.
- A written prescription that meets the outlined requirements is prepared and witnessed or notarized prior to prescribed burning. (See Below)
- A burning permit is obtained from the Alabama Forestry Commission.
- It is conducted pursuant to state law and rules applicable to prescribed burning.
Minimum Standards for a Prescribed Burn Plan
- Personal information to include:
- Name, mailing address, and phone number of property owner
- Name, mailing address, and phone number of the individual preparing the plan and/or executing the burn
- Prescribed burn manager certification number
- Description of area to be burned:
- Section, Township, and Range
- Acres to be burned
- Type and size of overstory
- Type and size of understory
- Fuel type and amount
- Purpose of burn
- Pre-burn information to Include:
- Necessary manpower and equipment
- Firing techniques to be used
- List of areas around site that could be adversely impacted by smoke from burn*
- Special precautions taken
- Range of desired weather information to include:
- Surface wind speed and direction
- Minimum and maximum relative humidity
- Maximum temperature
- Transport wind speed and direction
- Minimum mixing height
- Dispersion Index
- Starting time and completion of ignition
- Sketch of area to be burned
- Signature of burn manager, dated and notorized or witnessed
- Burn Permit number
*As determined by “Smoke Management Guidelines for Prescribed Burning in Alabama”