Every summer, the JBLM Environmental Division conducts prescribed burns at various locations around the base. Prescribed burns reduce the fuel load that can cause devastating wildfires, improve training lands for service members and enhance fire-dependent habitats.
Occasionally, JBLM conducts slash pile burns in the Fall and Winter for fuel reduction. We do slash pile burns at this time of year since the risk of fire spreading into the fuels around the pile are reduced to practically zero.
Nuisance smoke is defined by Washington regulations as "When emissions from any open fire causes physical discomfort or health problems to people residing in the vicinity of the burning or physical damage to property". If you would like to report ground level nuisance smoke, please call 253-912-2049.
JBLM Forestry and JBLM Fish and Wildlife personnel are assisted by the JBLM Fire Department, and sometimes the Washington Department of Natural Resources and adjacent fire districts, for suppression of wildfires, almost all of which are started by military training such as exploding shells and pyrotechnics.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can you burn when Pierce County has a burn ban in place?
JBLM can burn because the installation has its own means of fire suppression and is responsible for suppressing wildfires that occur on base. Fire danger burn bans are put into place by the fire department responsible for the area's fire suppression.
During the summer months, JBLM requires a minimum of 15 trained fire fighters, three fire engines, two fire engine UTVs and at least 2,000 gallons of water be present prior to conducting a prescribed fire.
We do not burn during air quality burn bans. We have to safely burn fuel loads that could potentially create devastating wildfires during the time of year it will burn.
Why do you burn?
JBLM conducts prescribed burns to meet multiple objectives. Although the primary objective of most prescribed burns is to enhance the habitat for endangered and rare species (which is required to comply with the Endangered Species Act), prescribed burns also provide better training areas for service members and reduce fuel loadings. Reducing fuel loadings is likely the most important benefit to the surrounding community because it decreases the chances of devastating wildfires. Good fires prevent bad ones.
What about the air quality?
JBLM does not burn during an air quality burn ban. Every morning before a burn, the team monitors real-time air quality and weather forecasts to ensure minimal impact to the surrounding communities.
The team burns in such a way that smoke goes up then dissipates, rather than spreading out low. Communities are usually only affected by wildfires, not controlled burns. However, if you do experience nuisance smoke from the controlled burns, please call the number listed. If a burn is found to be creating nuisance smoke which is having negative health impacts on the community, it is shut down.
Where's that smoke coming from?
Reports of nuisance smoke are often due to wildfires either on JBLM or as far away as Canada and California.
In addition to monitoring weather and wind patterns, JBLM burns in such a way that causes the fire to go up and dissipate rather than blanketing out into the community. Personnel burn on weekday afternoons, so smoke on the weekends is not from a JBLM prescribed fire.
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