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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

March 23, 2011

9210 (MT925) P                                                                                             
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2011-042
Expires: 09/30/2012
To:                   Leadership Advisory Team
                        Attention: Fuels, Fire Management, Forestry, and Natural Resources Specialists
From:               State Director
Subject:           Supplemental Guidance for Planning/Implementing Prescribed Fire Projects          
Program Areas: Prescribed Fire Management
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) issues additional prescribed fire guidance for implementing the 2008 Interagency Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Reference Guide (IA RX Fire Guide) and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Supplement to the IA RX Fire Guide (issued under FA-IM-2010-009, Attachment 1-1, dated January 29, 2010)
Policy/Action Required: The IA RX Fire Guide was signed by the National Fire and Aviation Executive Board (August 2008).  It provides policy, direction, and standardized procedures associated with the planning and implementation of prescribed fire for the five Federal land management agencies.  This guide and prescribed fire plan template can be accessed electronically at http://www.nwcg.gov/pms/RxFire/rxfire.htm
The intent of this IM is to clarify those areas in the IA RX Fire Guide and the National BLM Supplement where additional requirements, guidance, and direction are warranted for the BLM Montana/Dakotas.
State Office Review of Burn Plans, Prescribed Fire Projects and Fuels Programs
The state office fire staff will conduct reviews of each field office’s fuels program, with emphasis on field office projects and integration into the National Fire Plan objectives. 
The state office fire staff must review at least one (1) Type 2 complexity or above burn plan per year per field office, and should visit at least one prescribed fire project during the implementation or monitoring phase per year. All plans will be technically reviewed by a specialist not involved in the preparation of the plan.  To ensure the most thorough technical review possible, consider sending as many moderate and complex burn plans to the state office fire staff and other field offices as is feasible. Qualified technical reviewers from other agencies or cooperators may review and sign the BLM burn plans.  
All burn plans will include, under Element 9 Section C, the field manager, district manager, zone fire management officer, state fire management officer (FMO), state fuels program lead, Deputy State Director of Resources, Associate State Director, and State Director to be notified prior to ignition.  The state office notifications can be made by e‑mail.  Each burn plan will show who is responsible for notifying these individuals and must indicate when the contact was made for inclusion in the project file.
Press releases will be written and distributed to notify the public of planned prescribed burns.
Approvals and Signatures Prior to Burn
The IA RX Fire Guide assigns the district, zone, or field office FMO the responsibility of reviewing and signing the developed BLM and multi-agency burn plans implemented by the BLM. The district manager and the zone FMO (or acting) will approve all burns 24 hours prior to ignition and daily thereafter for multi-day ignition burns. The district manager can delegate the authority to the field manager.  Their decision to concur or disagree with the Prescribed Go/No-Go Checklist decision may be based on information not considered on the checklist.  This approval can be verbal or in writing.  Verbal approval must be documented and included in the project file.
Prior to ignition, the field manager, FMO, and burn boss will certify that they have reviewed the burn plan, and are in agreement with (Element 3) the Complexity Analysis Summary. In addition (Element 2), the Prescribed Fire Go/No-Go Checklist, will be completed and signed on a daily basis by the burn boss, the firing boss (FIRL or FIRB), and holding specialist.  The FMO and district manager will be notified that the Go/No-Go Checklist was signed and ignition will proceed.  Original signed copies of both the Complexity Analysis and the daily Go/No-Go Checklist will be included in the project file.  Each burn day must have its own Go/No-Go Checklist.  It is not permissible to have one Go/No-Go Checklist with several signatures over time.
In addition to the Prescribed Fire Go/No-Go Checklist (Element 2), the Agency Administrator Go/No-Go Ignition Approval Checklist must be signed and recommended by the FMO and burn boss, and approved and dated by the field manager.  These duties may be delegated to qualified acting personnel.
The IA RX Fire Guide states that the FMO is responsible to the Agency Administrator for planning, implementing and monitoring of the Prescribed Fire Program in accordance with policy and direction.  One of the responsibilities of the FMO is to assign the prescribed fire burn boss.  This responsibility may be delegated to the field office, district, or zone fuels specialist.
To ensure currency of all burn plans and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents, the following Re-Certification for Multiple Years Statement will be added to the Administrators Go/No –Go Checklist for signature:
I certify that I have reviewed this Prescribed Fire Plan for the current calendar year. Project NEPA analysis and conditions described in this plan (circle one):  (a) remain unchanged and current or (b) are documented in additional NEPA analysis and/or a prescribed fire plan amendment. 
Amendments to the Burn Plan may be authorized by the field manager.  Prescribed burn plans must meet all requirements of the IA RX Fire Guide or Bureau adopted policy direction.
Timeframe: This direction is effective immediately.
Budget Impact: None.
Background: The July 2008 RX Fire Guide provides policy, direction, and standardized procedures associated with planning and implementing of prescribed fire for the five federal land management agencies.  The RX Fire Guide describes what is minimally acceptable for prescribed fire planning and implementation.  Agencies may choose to provide more restrictive standards and policy direction; however, they must adhere to the minimum standards as identified in the guide.  This IM is a supplement to FA-IM-2010-009 and supersedes IM-MT-2009-025.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  This IM replaces MT-2009-025 and attachments.
Coordination: Prepared in coordination with the Branch of Fire and Aviation and the fire management officers.
Contact: If you have any questions about this guidance or other prescribed fire planning and implementation procedures issues, please contact Karen Michaud, Fuels Program Manager, at 406-896-2911.
Signed By:                                                                              Authenticated By:     
Jamie E.Connell                                                                      Gabriella Torres
State Director                                                                         Staff Assistant (MT925)        
2 Attachments
    1-FA IM-2010-009 (2 pp)
    2-FA IM-2010-009_at1 (9 pp)

Last updated: 06-28-2012