Certified Burn Managers Program

Prescribed burning is the deliberate use of fire under specified and controlled conditions to achieve a resource management goal. Benefits include:

  • site preparation for reforesting
  • hardwood control in pine stands
  • wildfire hazard reduction
  • improved wildlife habitat
  • threatened and endangered species management

To promote the use of prescribed fire in Virginia, as well as raise the knowledge and awareness of Virginia’s prescribed burn practitioners, the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) has established a Certified Prescribed Burn Managers Program. The voluntary three-day program includes sessions on fire behavior, environmental effects of fire, and smoke management.

Who should attend:

  • prescribed burn practitioners:
    • natural resource managers
    • consultants
    • contractors

Those who successfully complete the training will become certified under the program.

Becoming a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager

Training opportunities to become a certified prescribed burn manager will be posted on DOF’s Events Calendar.

4 PM Burning Law Exemption

Certified prescribed burn managers can apply for an exemption to the 4 PM Burning Law to complete specific types of burning during the restricted period of February 15 to April 30.

The 4 PM Burning Law §10.1-1142 B shall not apply if:

  1. The fire is set for “prescribed burning” that is conducted in accordance with a “prescription” and managed by a “certified prescribed burn manager” as those terms are defined in §10.1-1150.1;
  2. The burn is conducted in accordance with §10.1-1150.4;
  3. The State Forester has approved the application for the prescribed burn; and
  4. The burn is being conducted for one of the following purposes:
    1. control of exotic and invasive plant species that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year;
    2. wildlife habitat establishment and maintenance that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year; or
    3. management necessary for natural heritage resources. The state forester may on the day of any burn planned to be conducted pursuant to this subsection revoke his approval of the prescription for the burn if hazardous fire conditions exist. The state forester may revoke the certification of any certified prescribed burn manager who violates any provision of this subsection.

To Apply

  • Applications for the following year are accepted beginning May 1.
  • Applications must be submitted prior to February 1 of the year exemption is requested.
  • Applicants are notified of the decision made regarding exemption.
  • Each project you plan on burning during the exemption period will need a separate exemption application, complete with required documents.

To apply, completely fill out Form 4.7 Application for Exemption to the 4PM Burning Law and submit required documents to the state forester, as directed on the application.

Conditions of Exemption

Call the nearest DOF Regional Office on the morning of the planned burn.

The exemption is for the entire period the 4PM Burning Law is in effect but can be revoked at any time should conditions warrant. It is critical that all requirements of the certified prescribed burn manager be strictly followed.

Additional Resources

Additional prescribed burn manager tools are available.

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent TypeViewhf:tax:document-categoryhf:tax:Media
A Guide for Prescribed Fire in Southern Forests
A Guide for Prescribed Fire in Southern ForestsViewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication
A Guide to Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Quality
A Guide to Mid-Atlantic Regional Air QualityViewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication
Application for Exemption to the 4PM Burning Law
Application for Exemption to the 4PM Burning Law4.07Viewfire-and-emergency-responseform
Beyond the Bonfire: A Primer on Prescribed Fire for Virginia's Landowners
Beyond the Bonfire: A Primer on Prescribed Fire for Virginia’s Landowners

Booklet educates landowners about prescribed fire. What are the laws regarding prescribed burning? How is a burn conducted? What tools are necessary to safely conduct a burn?

Developing Wildlife-Friendly Pine Plantations
Developing Wildlife-Friendly Pine PlantationsViewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication
Fire Effects Guide
Fire Effects GuideNFES 2394Viewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication
Prescribed Burn Management Plan4.09Viewfire-and-emergency-responseform
Prescribed Burning Services Agreement
Prescribed Burning Services Agreement4.10Viewfire-and-emergency-responseform
Refining the Oak-Fire Hypothesis for Management of Oak-Dominated Forests of the Eastern United States
Refining the Oak-Fire Hypothesis for Management of Oak-Dominated Forests of the Eastern United StatesJAF 110(5)

For prescribed fires to be effective, they must positively influence oak regeneration at one or more critical life stages: pollination, flowering, seed set, germination, establishment, seedling development and release into the canopy.  The authors propose a refinement in our thinking to improve the match between management tools and objectives and provide some guidelines for thinking more ecologically about when and where to apply fire on the landscape to sustain oak-dominated forests. A very helpful key is provided on page 7 to help managers identify when fire will help managing the forest.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response forest-managementpublication
Virginia Smoke Management Guidelines
Virginia Smoke Management GuidelinesViewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication
Wildfire Smoke - A Guide for Public Health Officials and Factsheets
Wildfire Smoke – A Guide for Public Health Officials and Factsheets

This document, originally developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is designed to help local public health officials prepare for smoke events, to take measures to protect the public when smoke is present, and communicate with the public about wildfire smoke and health.


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