Emissions & Smoke Portal > Educational Resources > Smoke Management and Air Quality for Land Managers Tutorial > Module 3: Smoke Management

    Module 3: Smoke Management

    pile_burning.jpgIn Modules 1 and 2 we discussed the impacts and regulatory challenges of smoke. In this Module we’ll cover how to mitigate or prevent prescribed fire emission impacts on air quality with the use of basic smoke management practices (BSMPs). BSMPs can be widely applicable, however many states also have smoke management programs (SMPs) and some have enhanced smoke management programs (ESMPs) to address emissions. For federal land management agencies, the use of BSMPs is guided by agency policy and supporting documents. Therefore, a burner should utilize appropriate BSMPs and be familiar with and follow the requirements set forth in their local program. Click Here for more information on state smoke management programs.

    BSMP concepts presented here represent approaches to smoke management that include smoke dispersion, record keeping, communication, and emission reduction. These BSMP concepts presented are example options, and can have applicability ranging from areas with no smoke management requirements to areas where existing programs may not fully address smoke management challenges. The broader the suite of BSMPs selected, the greater the likelihood of significantly reducing adverse smoke impacts. Prescribed fire managers should consider the suite of BSMPs that may be applicable to their situation and adopt them as routine procedures. Not all BSMPs are applicable to all situations, however some are considered critical and provide the basis for documentation if an exceptional event were to occur. Such critical practices include meteorological scheduling and smoke impact evaluation, monitoring the effects of fire and documenting dispersion, public notification, and taking actions to reduce exposure).

    In areas where smoke is becoming a concern, prescribed fire managers and air quality regulators should collaborate to define and promote the use  of an appropriate suite of basic smoke management practices to minimize air quality impacts and meet air quality objectives for that area (for example nonattainment areas versus other areas). Module 3 will discuss basic smoke management practices (BSMPs):

    • Evaluate Smoke Dispersion Conditions
    • Monitoring Effects on Air Quality
    • Record-Keeping/Maintain a Burn/Smoke Journal
    • Communication - Public Notification
    • Consider Emission Reduction Techniques
    • Share the Airshed - Coordination of Area Burning

    The use of BSMPs such as these is standard policy for most agencies regardless of the location, ownership, or specific fuel type. Some important aspects of BSMPs include:

    • BSMPs can protect the public from smoke exposure, help avoid an exceedance of a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and minimize impacts on sensitive areas such as Class 1 areas.
    • BSMP's are recommended to be used by burners regardless of Smoke Management Programs or Enhanced Smoke Management Programs that are in place.
    • Documented use of BSMPs can allow for a State to flag data and seek exclusion for an exceedance of the NAAQS if appropriate Exceptional Event Rule criteria are met.
    • BSMPs can also be considered smoke management techniques as cited in the Regional Haze Rule (RHR) and therefore used to address visibility concerns in Class I areas.


    Under the proposed Exceptional Event Rule revision of 2016, showing use of BSMPs will also be a criteria for Exceptional Event consideration. The BSMP's recognized in the  proposed rule align with those described in this module:

    Basic Smoke Management Practice Benefit achieved with the BSMP When the BSMP is applied- before/during/after the burn

    Evaluate Smoke Dispersion Conditions

    Minimize smoke impacts. Before, During, After.

    Monitor Effects on Air Quality

    Be aware of where the smoke is going and degree it impacts air quality. Before, During, After.

    Record-Keeping/ Maintain a Burn/Smoke Journal

    Retain information about the weather, burn and smoke. If air quality problems occur, documentation helps analyze and address air regulatory issues. Before, During, After.

    Communication - Public Notification

    Notify neighbors and those potentially impacted by smoke, especially sensitive receptors. Before, During.

    Consider Emission Reduction Techniques

    Reducing emissions through mechanisms such as reducing fuel loading can reduce downwind impacts. Before, During, After.

    Share the Airshed - Coordination of Area Burning

    Coordinate multiple burns in the area to manage exposure of the public to smoke. Before, During, After.

    Upon completion of this Module you should be able to do the following:

    •     Understand how BSMPs can mitigate fire emissions impacts on air quality.
    •     Identify the eight suggested basic smoke management practices.
    •     Identify some of the basic smoke management practices applicable to your region.
    •     Know the different kinds of smoke management programs that are commonly used.

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