Implementation & Standards

Implementation and Standards Committee

Chair: Jim Elleson, Consultant 

For more information on our Implementation and Standards Committee, or to join the committee, please contact Jim Elleson. Participation in the committee is open to any interested member of the WPFC.

Our Mission

The Implementation and Standards Committee develops specific recommendations for Wisconsin prescribed burn practitioners, including personnel training and experience, and implementation guidance.

The WPFC recognizes two sets of standards for prescribed fire implementation. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) is considered the national authority in wildfire standards and implementation, and their standards are accepted as best practice by the WPFC. The Implementation and Standards Committee has also developed several documents important for the consistency of fire training and application specific to Wisconsin. These documents are intended to meet the need for an alternative to the NWCG standards, which are impractical for, or unavailable to, many prescribed fire practitioners in Wisconsin. These documents are not intended to supplant or preempt the NWCG qualification standards, but to provide a parallel track for those for whom it is appropriate. The WPFC is committed to continually improve best practices for the implementation and standards of prescribed burning in Wisconsin through academic inquiry and incorporation of lessons learned from skilled, professional practitioners from a variety of backgrounds.

In 2024, we updated our Recommended Qualifications for Prescribed Fire Personnel to provide more detail on recommended qualifications for Crew Leaders and Burn Bosses.


The Standards Committee is currently developing a program for certifying the training and experience of prescribed fire leaders, particularly those who lead burns on multiple units at multiple locations each year.  We envision a program modeled on those in force in other states, tailored to the specific needs of Wisconsin.

The certification program would provide a defined path for individuals to achieve certified Burn Boss status, including the necessary training.

The certification program is not intended for those leading only a few simple burns, primarily on their own land, each year.  WPFC expects to provide training for private landowners through other means.

The primary incentive to become certified will be the ability to obtain a recognized credential, which can be used to demonstrate an individual’s qualifications to insurers, permit authorities, potential clients, and others.

Certification would not be a requirement to lead burns in Wisconsin.  The current permit system would remain as-is for those who do not choose to become certified.

Click here for a report on the current status of certification development.

Complexity Analysis

The Standards Committee has developed a draft Prescribed Fire Complexity Rating Worksheet to help prescribed fire practitioners assess the complexity of implementing a specific prescribed fire. The Worksheet was adapted from complexity analysis tools used by the Nature Conservancy fire program and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

The Worksheet can be useful for:

    • Fire practitioners to evaluate their own burn units.
    • Burn bosses to assess what types of burns they are qualified to implement and what their limits are.
    • Instructors to illustrate to trainees and practitioners how fire complexity varies across the Midwestern landscape.
    • Training organizations as a method for stratifying training program complexity, and for identifying the level and types of training that may be necessary.
    • Burn plan reviewers seeking to assess escape risk in relation to burn complexity.

We asking practitioners to use the worksheet to score their burn units, and to provide feedback on its usefulness and usability.

Introduction and Instructions for the WPFC Complexity Analysis

WPFC Complexity Worksheet

Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council Standards

National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG)

The participating groups include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and state forestry agencies through the National Association of State Foresters.

The purpose of NWCG is to coordinate programs of the participating wildfire management agencies so as to avoid wasteful duplication and to provide a means of constructively working together. Its goal is to provide more effective execution of each agency’s fire management program. The group provides a formalized system to agree upon standards of training, equipment, qualifications and other operational functions.

Visit NWCG’s website for more information.