Planning and preparation for prescribed burns should start several months or even a year prior to a burn. The following issues represent the most common problems we encounter regarding well-intended, but poorly prepared or executed burns:
• Little training and experience
• Inadequate fine fuel
• Absence of a well-prepared burn plan
• Poorly prepared fireguards
• Coarse or volatile fuels too close to fireguards
• Impatience (related to poor decisions)

Lack of training can be overcome by attending prescribed burning workshops and courses taught by qualified personnel, such as extension, universities, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Noble Foundation, etc., and reading appropriate publications prepared by such entities. Experience can be obtained by helping on several burns conducted by knowledgeable, well-trained burn managers and asking questions while helping.

Inadequate fuel is generally a result of inadequate rest from grazing, low rainfall, infertile soils, poor range condition and/or excessive amounts of some woody species. Although inadequate fuel makes it difficult or impossible to accomplish burning objectives, it is seldom a safety or containment problem, unlike these other issues.

Well-prepared burn plans require time, study and thought, but force managers to carefully and thoroughly plan burns and adequately prepare for contingencies. After a good burn plan is completed for a tract of land, future burns on the same tract of land require only minor tweaking of the original plan.

To read the entire article, link to The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.