Selected Mississippi prescribed fire laws

Note: [Bracketed comments in bold after sections are provided by the website author and are not official government statements]

Title 49. Conservation and Ecology.
     Chapter 19. Forests and Forest Protection.
Sections:
49-19-3. (Selection and qualifications of state foresters; other duties and powers of the Commission)
49-19-25. (Fires declared nuisances; abandoned open cisterns and wells declared nuisances, abatement)
49-19-301. (Short title).
49-19-303. (Legislative findings; purpose)
49-19-305. (Definitions)
49-19-307. (Regulation of prescribed burns; liability)
49-19-351. (Restrictions on outdoor burning during drought or wildfire conditions; penalties)
95-5-25. (By firing woods)
97-17-13. (Arson-willfully or negligently firing woods, marsh, meadow, etc.)

Section 49-19-3 (Selection and qualifications of state foresters; other duties and powers of the Commission)
(a) [not presented]
(b) To take such action and provide and maintain such organized means as may seem necessary and expedient to prevent, control and extinguish forest fires, including the enforcement of any and all laws pertaining to the protection of forests and woodland.

Section 49-19-25.  (Fires declared nuisances; abandoned open cisterns and wells declared nuisances, abatement)
(a) Any fire on any forested, cutover, brush land or grass lands burning uncontrolled is hereby declared a public nuisance by reason of its menace to life and property. Any person, firm or corporation negligently or willfully and maliciously responsible for the starting or the existence of such fire on land other than his own is hereby required to control or extinguish it immediately, and if said person, firm or corporation shall willfully refuse, neglect or fail to do so, any organized fire suppression agency recognized by the Mississippi Forestry Commission, may summarily abate the nuisance thus constituted by controlling or extinguishing the fire. The cost of abating such nuisance, with all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to be allowed by the court, may be recovered from the person, firm or corporation responsible for such nuisance by civil action in the proper court, action for said recovery to be filed by the agency abating the nuisance. This section shall not impair any remedy now allowed by law.
[Onsite uncontrolled or escaped fires will be suppressed by Forestry Commission, with the burn manager charged for the costs of operation if negligent]

Section 49-19-301. (Short title).
Sections 49-19-301 through 49-19-307 may be cited as the “Mississippi Prescribed Burning Act.”

Section 49-19-303. (Legislative findings; purpose).
(1) The application of prescribed burning is a landowner property right and a land management tool that benefits the safety of the public, the environment and the economy of Mississippi . . .
(2) It is the purpose of Sections 49-19-301 through 49-19-307 to authorize and promote the continued use of prescribed burning for ecological, silvicultural and wildlife management purposes.
[Prescribed burning is a property right]

Section 49-19-305. (Definitions.)
As used in this section unless the context requires otherwise:

(a) “Prescribed burning” means the controlled application of fire to naturally occurring vegetative fuels for ecological, silvicultural and wildlife management purposes under specified environmental conditions and the following of appropriate precautionary measures which cause the fire to be confined to a predetermined area and accomplishes the planned land management objectives.

(b) “Certified prescribed burn manager” means an individual or county forester who successfully completes the certification program approved by the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

(c) “Prescription” means a written plan for starting and controlling a prescribed burn to accomplish the ecological, silvicultural and wildlife management objectives.

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Section 49-19-307.  (Regulation of prescribed burns; liability)
(1) No property owner or his agent, conducting a prescribed burn pursuant to the requirements of this section, shall be liable for damage or injury caused by fire or resulting smoke unless negligence is proven.
(2) Prescribed burning conducted under the provisions of this section shall:
     (a) Be accomplished only when at least one (1) certified prescribed burn manager is supervising the burn or burns that are being conducted;
     (b) Require that a written prescription be prepared and notarized prior to prescribed burning;
     (c) Require that a burning permit be obtained from the Mississippi Forestry Commission; and
     (d) Be considered in the public interest and shall not constitute a public or private nuisance when conducted pursuant to state air pollution      statutes and rules applicable to prescribed burning.
(3) The Mississippi Forestry Commission shall have the authority to promulgate rules for the certification of prescribed burn managers and guidelines for a prescribed burn prescription.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the civil or criminal liability as provided in Section 97-17-13 and Section 95-5-25, Mississippi Code of 1972.
[Liability protection is based on state certification, a written prescription, a permit, and following state air quality guidelines, provided that gross negligence (legal) or negligence (financial) does not allow fire escape]

Section 49-19-351. (Restrictions on outdoor burning during drought or wildfire conditions; penalties)
(1)  In this section, "drought or wildfire conditions" means the existence of a deficit of moisture creating severe conditions with increased wildfire occurrences as determined by the State Forestry Commission through use of drought indices or models or the existence of extreme wildfire conditions.
(2) If the State Forestry Commission determines that drought or wildfire conditions exist in a county, the commission shall notify the board of supervisors of that county. The commission may recommend that a temporary outdoor burning ban or other restrictions be adopted by the board of supervisors.
(3) The board of supervisors may, by order, prohibit or restrict outdoor burning in all or part of the unincorporated parts of the county if drought or wildfire conditions have been determined to exist by the State Forestry Commission. An order must specify the period during which burning is restricted. The State Forestry Commission shall notify the board of supervisors when the drought or wildfire conditions no longer exist. Any order issued under this section shall expire upon the determination that the drought or wildfire conditions no longer exist.
(4) Any person who knowingly and willfully violates an order under this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
(5) The sheriff of the county shall enforce the order and may cite persons for violations of an order under this section.
[Burn bans]

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Section 95-5-25. (By firing woods.)
If any person shall set on fire any lands of another, or shall wantonly, negligently, or carelessly allow any fire to get into the lands of another, he shall be liable to the person injured thereby, not only for the injury to or destruction of building, fences, and the like, but for the burning and injury of trees, timber, and grass, and damage to the range as well; and shall moreover be liable to a penalty of one hundred and fifty dollars in favor of the owner.
[Fire escape due to carelessness incurs damage liability]

Section 97-17-13. (Arson-willfully or negligently firing woods, marsh, meadow, etc.)
If any person willfully, maliciously, and feloniously sets on fire any woods, meadow, marsh, field or prairie, not his own, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to the state penitentiary for not more than two (2) years nor less than one year, or fined not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court.  Provided, however, if any person recklessly or with gross negligence causes fire to be communicated to any woods, meadow, marsh, field or prairie, not his own, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, on conviction, be fined not less than twenty dollars ($20.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), or imprisoned in the county jail not more than three (3) months, or both, at the discretion of the court.
[The first sentence covers arson while the second is concerned with unintentional fire escape and the legal consequences.  Gross negligence is the standard.]

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Website was last updated on 17 August 2006 by D. Marshall, UGA

 

 

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