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Prescribed Burning Guidelines
in the Northern Great Plains

Post-burn monitoring, mop-up, and cleanup

The fire is not over until all of the burn unit and its fuel are cold and not producing smoke. There are three basic steps to post-burn assessment:

1. perimeter monitoring
2. necessary mop-up of smoking or burning pieces or patches of fuel
3. site cleanup.

The last two steps do not begin until the fire has burned across the burn unit.

Perimeter monitoring

Perimeter monitoring of the burn unit is a continuous function from the onset of the fire until the fire boss proclaims the fire to be out and cold.

After the main passage of the fire, monitoring intensity can be lessened. Usually, one person can periodically drive around the perimeter of the burn unit, watching for fires or smoke.


Mop-up includes any actions to put out smoke, hot coals, or flames from anything within the burn unit or within spot fire distances.

Mop-up actions may include drenching with water or fire retardant chemicals, smothering with a covering of soil or sand, flapping and raking the fuels apart, or, if time permits, just monitoring the area until everything gets cold and there is no more smoke production.

Occasionally junk piles, old barnyard manure piles, buried fence posts, etc, may burn for many days underground and then resurface across a fireline and start a wildfire. In these cases mop-up actions may be more complex and require heavy equipment to either bury or extinguish the smoldering material.

Site cleanup

Post-burn site cleanup may be as simple as removing all personnel and equipment from an area or as complex as renovation of firebreaks and the removal of undesirable rubbish. Site cleanup activities should not begin until the burn unit is declared cold and all monitoring and mop-up are complete.

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