30,000 acres burned so far in prescribed fire in South Florida

prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks
Cross-boundary prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. NPS photo.

Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Park are conducting a cross-boundary prescribed fire this week in South Florida. So far they have completed 30,000 acres. Everglades is continuing ignitions today and tomorrow, April 4 and 5, 2019.

prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks
Cross-boundary prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. NPS photo.

The south Florida National Parks often ignite prescribed fires with a helicopter-mounted device that drops plastic spheres which ignite after hitting the ground. It’s called a Plastic Sphere Dispenser, or PSD. Much of what the parks burn is vegetation over standing water. If the sphere lands in water it may not ignite the vegetation, but every sphere does not have to be successful.

The burn pattern in the photo below illustrates the paths of several helicopter flight lines. The direction of spread is being determined by a wind blowing from left to right.

prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks
Cross-boundary prescribed fire in Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. NPS photo.

When the PSD was first developed several decades ago it was called an
Aerial Ignition Device, or AID. When acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, became a serious health issue, firefighters dropped the AID label and renamed it Plastic Sphere Dispenser, or PSD.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “30,000 acres burned so far in prescribed fire in South Florida”

  1. Really cool to see landscape level management in action! I wonder if this will ever be possible outside of the SE.

    1. Come to the midwest. It will be black from horizon to horizon in the next 10 days. Alot of burning going on the last week.

  2. Flashback. So back in the 80s I was one of the first PSD (AIDS) machine operators in EVER. I was transporting the machine and a number of case’s of the spheres, then labeled AID’s on the boxes to the LZ on the L-67 canal in a van for a big burnout. I stopped at Dade Corners, a popular truck stop and local gathering spot on US 41 for coffee. Returning to the van I found a crowd gathered around it and people talking about a government plot to infect the swamp with AIDS. I was blamed and left with a bunch of angry people behind me despite my attempt to explain what they really were. They had seen the boxes’ labeled AIDS in the van. The burn out went well, and we set a record for number of spheres (AIDS) dropped but the PIO had had a very difficult day and the press twisted the truth as usual.

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