Wildland Firefighting
Wildland/Urban Interface in Boone County

The spring in Boone County is our busy brush and grass fire season.
Covering 532 square miles of predominantly rural Boone County, the Fire Protection District incurs a number of wildland fires each year. Typically, the Missouri wildland fire season is in the spring of each year and generally runs from late February through early April. The secondary season is in the fall of the year following the first heavy frost. These are the periods of time in Missouri’s climate when the weather and fuel conditions are optimum for wildland fire problems. The ground cover is typically dead or dying resulting in little moisture content, humidity levels are down, temperatures are up and wind conditions are erratic and typically higher than normal.
The wildland fire problem in Boone County is a unique one. While most rural areas in Missouri have vast acreages of open fields, wooded areas and prairies, Boone County is somewhat different due to the rapid growth and development within these rural areas. The wildland/urban interface, as it is called, in Boone County is very unique. Increasing population density causes more fires. It is a simple fact that fires occur, primarily due to human negligence. Where people reside, negligence follows. Secondarily, wildland fires burning out of control in Boone County now endanger more homes, businesses and farm complexes than in years past due, again, to the urbanization of the rural area.
Personnel and Equipment
To meet the growing need in Boone County’s interface, the Fire Protection District has employed rather unique fire suppression systems in the wildland/urban interface. The Boone County Fire District operates an out-of-state Wildland Team in concert with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the United States Forest Service. As a result of that long-standing relationship (since 1988), our personnel have had a very unique opportunity to experience the fires in the west and in Florida and have brought back extensive strategic knowledge for application in Boone County. Equipment has been improved using technology from the western forest fire environment. Specially designed quick response vehicles (QRVs) equipped with foam capability and a variety of hand tools and blowers are in use throughout the Fire District. Training and wildland fire management techniques have also been brought back from the west and employed locally.
What Firefighters Wear
Boone County’s firefighters are also equipped with personal protective clothing for the wildland fire environment. The clothing is designed to be lightweight, yet fire resistant, to allow the firefighters to work in a hot environment with relative ease and flexibility. The clothing worn in Boone County in the wildland fire environment is the same clothing worn by firefighters in the western fire campaigns.
Wildland fire gear is designed for fire protection while being easy to work in.
Open Burning Rules
While the Boone County Fire District, realizing that there remains large tracks of agricultural ground in Boone County upon which opening burning is productive and necessary, does not enforce open burning regulations, the Fire District does ask that property owners adhere to good burning practices when open burning is warranted. These practices include the following:
  • Burn only in the early morning or late evening hours when winds are light (no more than 10 mph) and humidity levels are higher.
  • Be sure the fire cannot spread should the wind speed increase. Plowing a 6’-10’ dirt line around what you intend to burn can do this.
  • Do not burn if it is windy or there is a steady breeze above 10mph
  • Have a water source nearby and plenty of help around to put the fire out if conditions change
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if you think the fire might be more than you can handle. Do not delay calling for help while you attempt to battle the blaze.
  • Notify the Columbia/Boone County Joint Communications Center at 442-6131 when you intend to do open burning.
The Fire District also asks property owners, planning a controlled burn, contact the Communications Center in advance so that when concerned neighbors or passing motorists with cell phones call to report a fire, the Fire District will know that a controlled burn is planned for the area. Due to the typical lack of a specific location given by the reporting party, the Fire District will respond to investigate and insure that the reported fire is indeed the controlled fire however; the Fire District will adjust the speed of its response accordingly.
It is very important to understand that, while the Fire District, does not maintain regulations relating to open burning, the Air Pollution Control Program within the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Quality, does have very specific rules and regulations relating to what can be burned in an open environment. Please refer to these regulations prior to burning. (Need link to DNR)
 

2014 Boone County Fire Protection District, Columbia, Missouri