The concept of forming a Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils developed back in early 2006. The need was largely driven by the Environmental Protection Agency’s eminent and emerging National Ambient Air Quality Standards revisions that were perceived as potential limits or restrictions imposed on a landowner’s use of prescribed fire as a natural resource management tool. Other concerns at that time, which are still relevant today, centered around public health and safety, liability, and public perception that created misapprehensions that constrain wildland fire use. It was the conclusion of the original stakeholder members that these collective challenges surpassed the ability of any single agency, state, organization, or individual to resolve alone. Thus, to more effectively address the issues of prescribed fire management and to better meet the challenges of wildland fire in an increasingly development-focused landscape, a diverse group of public and private leaders formed the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils in 2009 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The need for the Coalition is best understood in the context of the history of prescribed fire councils. Due to rapid development of Miami, federal agencies working in south Florida created the first fire council in the nation in 1975 to improve wildfire coordination in and around the Everglades. In 1989, the North Florida Prescribed Fire Council was created with an explicit focus on prescribed fire. Their novel approach was to be inclusive and partner all federal, state, and private interests. The result was the beginning of the “modern-day” prescribed fire council. This model was soon replicated in neighboring states and by 2006, the year the Coalition was conceptualized, prescribed fire councils had been established in five states. Since 2007, there has been rapid expansion of councils throughout the US. The councils have a successful track record of improving their state prescribed fire laws, educating local and state lawmakers, crafting state smoke management programs, developing prescribed fire awareness programs for the public, and working with local media to explain prescribed fire benefits. Together, these efforts maintain a viable coalition of passionate, committed land stewards that provide encouragement, education, and leadership for the use of prescribed fire.