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The Florida Statutes

The 2018 Florida Statutes

Title XXXV
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Chapter 590
FOREST PROTECTION
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CHAPTER 590
CHAPTER 590
FOREST PROTECTION
590.01 Wildfire protection.
590.015 Definitions.
590.02 Florida Forest Service; powers, authority, and duties; liability; building structures; Withlacoochee Training Center.
590.081 Severe drought conditions; burning prohibited.
590.082 Extraordinary fire hazard; certain acts made unlawful; proclamations by the Governor.
590.10 Disposing of lighted substances, etc.
590.11 Recreational fires.
590.125 Open burning authorized by the Florida Forest Service.
590.13 Civil liability.
590.14 Notice of violation; penalties; legislative intent.
590.15 Burden of proof.
590.16 Rewards.
590.25 Penalty for obstructing the prevention, detection, or suppression of wildfires.
590.27 Penalty for mutilating or destroying forestry or fire control signs and posters.
590.28 Intentional or reckless burning of lands.
590.29 Illegal possession of incendiary device.
590.31 Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact.
590.32 Compact; effective date; ratification.
590.33 State compact administrator; compact advisory committee.
590.34 State compact administrator and compact advisory committee members; powers; aid from other state agencies.
590.35 Construction of ss. 590.31-590.34.
590.42 Federally funded fire protection assistance programs.
590.61 Forestry arson alert program.
590.01 Wildfire protection.The Florida Forest Service has the primary responsibility for prevention, detection, and suppression of wildfires wherever they may occur. The Florida Forest Service shall provide leadership and direction in the evaluation, coordination, allocation of resources, and monitoring of wildfire management and protection. The Florida Forest Service shall promote natural resource management and fuel reduction through the use of prescribed fire and other fuel reduction measures.
History.s. 2, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-hh); ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 8, ch. 97-220; s. 1, ch. 99-292; s. 56, ch. 2012-7.
590.015 Definitions.As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Broadcast burning” means the burning of agricultural or natural vegetation by allowing fire to move across a predetermined area of land. The term does not include the burning of vegetative debris that is piled or stacked.
(2) “Fire management services” means presuppression fireline plowing, prescribed burning assistance, contract prescribed burning, prescribed and wildfire management training, and other activities associated with prevention, detection, and suppression of wildfires.
(3) “Fuel reduction” means the application of techniques that reduce vegetative fuels, and may include prescribed burning, manual and mechanical clearing, and the use of herbicides.
(4) “Open burning” means any outdoor fire or open combustion of material that produces visible emissions.
(5) “Wildfire” means any vegetative fire that threatens to destroy life, property, or natural resources.
(6) “Wild land” means any public or private managed or unmanaged forest, urban/interface, pasture or range land, recreation lands, or any other land at risk of wildfire.
History.s. 2, ch. 99-292; s. 31, ch. 2000-308; ss. 54, 71, ch. 2011-206; s. 57, ch. 2012-7.
590.02 Florida Forest Service; powers, authority, and duties; liability; building structures; Withlacoochee Training Center.
(1) The Florida Forest Service has the following powers, authority, and duties to:
(a) Enforce the provisions of this chapter;
(b) Prevent, detect, and suppress wildfires wherever they may occur on public or private land in this state and 1do all things necessary in the exercise of such powers, authority, and duties;
(c) Provide firefighting crews, who shall be under the control and direction of the Florida Forest Service and its designated agents;
(d) Appoint center managers, forest area supervisors, forestry program administrators, a forest protection bureau chief, a forest protection assistant bureau chief, a field operations bureau chief, deputy chiefs of field operations, district managers, forest operations administrators, senior forest rangers, investigators, forest rangers, firefighter rotorcraft pilots, and other employees who may, at the Florida Forest Service’s discretion, be certified as forestry firefighters pursuant to s. 633.408(8). Other law notwithstanding, center managers, district managers, forest protection assistant bureau chief, and deputy chiefs of field operations have Selected Exempt Service status in the state personnel designation;
(e) Develop a training curriculum for forestry firefighters which must contain the basic volunteer structural fire training course approved by the Florida State Fire College of the Division of State Fire Marshal and a minimum of 250 hours of wildfire training;
(f) Pay the cost of the initial commercial driver license examination fee for those employees whose position requires them to operate equipment requiring a license. This paragraph is intended to be an authorization to the department to pay such costs, not an obligation;
(g) Provide fire management services and emergency response assistance and 2set and charge reasonable fees for performance of those services. Moneys collected from such fees shall be deposited into the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service;
(h) Require all state, regional, and local government agencies operating aircraft in the vicinity of an ongoing wildfire to operate in compliance with the applicable state Wildfire Aviation Plan;
(i) Authorize broadcast burning, prescribed burning, pile burning, and land clearing debris burning to carry out the duties of this chapter and the rules adopted thereunder; and
(j) Make rules to accomplish the purposes of this chapter.
(2) The Florida Forest Service’s employees, and the firefighting crews under their control and direction, may enter upon any lands for the purpose of preventing, detecting, and suppressing wildfires and investigating smoke complaints or open burning not in compliance with authorization and to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
(3) Employees of the Florida Forest Service and of federal, state, and local agencies, and all other persons and entities that are under contract or agreement with the Florida Forest Service to assist in firefighting operations as well as those entities, called upon by the Florida Forest Service to assist in firefighting may, in the performance of their duties, set counterfires, remove fences and other obstacles, dig trenches, cut firelines, use water from public and private sources, and carry on all other customary activities in the fighting of wildfires without incurring liability to any person or entity. The manner in which the Florida Forest Service monitors a smoldering wildfire or smoldering prescribed fire or fights any wildfire are planning level activities for which sovereign immunity applies and is not waived.
(4)(a) The department may build structures, notwithstanding chapters 216 and 255, not to exceed a cost of $50,000 per structure from existing resources on forest lands, federal excess property, and unneeded existing structures. These structures must meet all applicable building codes.
(b) Notwithstanding s. 553.80(1), the department shall exclusively enforce the Florida Building Code as it pertains to wildfire, law enforcement, and other Florida Forest Service facilities under the jurisdiction of the department.
(5) The Florida Forest Service shall organize its operational units to most effectively prevent, detect, and suppress wildfires, and to that end, may employ the necessary personnel to manage its activities in each unit. The Florida Forest Service may construct lookout towers, roads, bridges, firelines, and other facilities and may purchase or fabricate tools, supplies, and equipment for firefighting. The Florida Forest Service may reimburse the public and private entities that it engages to assist in the suppression of wildfires for their personnel and equipment, including aircraft.
(6) The Florida Forest Service shall undertake privatization alternatives for fire prevention activities including constructing fire lines and conducting prescribed burns and, where appropriate, entering into agreements or contracts with the private sector to perform such activities.
(7) The Florida Forest Service may organize, staff, equip, and operate the Withlacoochee Training Center. The center shall serve as a site where fire and forest resource managers can obtain current knowledge, techniques, skills, and theory as they relate to their respective disciplines.
(a) The center may establish cooperative efforts involving federal, state, and local entities; hire appropriate personnel; and engage others by contract or agreement with or without compensation to assist in carrying out the training and operations of the center.
(b) The center shall provide wildfire suppression training opportunities for rural fire departments, volunteer fire departments, and other local fire response units.
(c) The center shall focus on curriculum related to, but not limited to, fuel reduction, an incident management system, prescribed burning certification, multiple-use land management, water quality, forest health, environmental education, and wildfire suppression training for structural firefighters.
(d) The center may assess appropriate fees for food, lodging, travel, course materials, and supplies in order to meet its operational costs and may grant free meals, room, and scholarships to persons and other entities in exchange for instructional assistance.
(8)(a) The Cross City Work Center shall be named the L. Earl Peterson Forestry Station. This is to honor Mr. L. Earl Peterson, Florida’s sixth state forester, whose distinguished career in state government has spanned 44 years, and who is a native of Dixie County.
(b) The Madison Forestry Station shall be named the Harvey Greene Sr. Forestry Station. This is to honor Mr. Harvey Greene Sr., a World War I veteran and pioneer in forestry in Madison County. In 1947, Mr. Harvey Greene Sr. offered to give the land on which the forestry station is located to the state; however, at that time, the state could not accept donations of land. Instead, Mr. Harvey Greene Sr. sold the land to the state and, with the proceeds of the sale, purchased forestry equipment to be used by the citizens of Madison County to plant trees and fight wildfires.
(9)(a) Notwithstanding ss. 273.055 and 287.16, the department may retain, transfer, warehouse, bid, destroy, scrap, or otherwise dispose of surplus equipment and vehicles that are used for wildland firefighting.
(b) All money received from the disposition of state-owned equipment and vehicles that are used for wildland firefighting shall be retained by the department. Money received pursuant to this section is appropriated for and may be disbursed for the acquisition of exchange and surplus equipment used for wildland firefighting, and for all necessary operating expenditures related to such equipment, in the same fiscal year and the fiscal year following the disposition. The department shall maintain records of the accounts into which the money is deposited.
(10)(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 252.38, the Florida Forest Service has exclusive authority to require and issue authorizations for broadcast burning and agricultural and silvicultural pile burning. An agency, commission, department, county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not adopt or enforce laws, regulations, rules, or policies pertaining to broadcast burning or agricultural and silvicultural pile burning.
(b) The Florida Forest Service may delegate to a county, municipality, or special district its authority:
1. As delegated by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to ss. 403.061(28) and 403.081, to manage and enforce regulations pertaining to the burning of yard trash in accordance with s. 590.125(6).
2. To manage the open burning of land clearing debris in accordance with s. 590.125.
History.s. 14, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-ss); s. 1, ch. 26915, 1951; s. 1, ch. 57-55; ss. 2, 3, ch. 67-371; ss. 14, 31, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 77-70; s. 1, ch. 79-91; s. 142, ch. 79-190; s. 231, ch. 79-400; s. 1, ch. 80-40; s. 1, ch. 81-111; s. 2, ch. 83-178; s. 2, ch. 86-59; s. 3, ch. 88-321; s. 1, ch. 92-187; s. 8, ch. 92-290; s. 103, ch. 92-291; s. 23, ch. 96-231; s. 9, ch. 97-220; s. 3, ch. 99-292; s. 76, ch. 2000-154; s. 27, ch. 2000-197; s. 39, ch. 2002-295; s. 55, ch. 2011-206; s. 58, ch. 2012-7; s. 45, ch. 2012-190; s. 151, ch. 2013-183; s. 23, ch. 2013-226; s. 131, ch. 2014-17; s. 148, ch. 2014-150; s. 36, ch. 2017-85; s. 55, ch. 2018-84.
1Note.The word “to” preceding the word “do” was deleted by the editors.
2Note.The word “to” preceding the word “set” was deleted by the editors.
590.081 Severe drought conditions; burning prohibited.
(1) The Commissioner of Agriculture may declare a severe drought emergency to exist and describe the general boundaries of the area affected.
(2) Any declaration by the Commissioner of Agriculture under authority of this section shall be effective immediately upon being filed with the Department of State and shall remain in full force and effect until conditions warrant a revocation. In order to end the declaration, the commissioner must file a revocation of the declaration with the Department of State.
(3) It is unlawful for any person to set fire to, or cause fire to be set to, any wild lands or to build a campfire or bonfire or to burn trash or other debris within the designated area of a severe drought emergency unless a written permit is obtained from the Florida Forest Service or its designated agent.
(4) Any person violating any of the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.ss. 1-5, ch. 57-246; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 71-64; s. 614, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 75-264; s. 4, ch. 99-292; s. 59, ch. 2012-7.
590.082 Extraordinary fire hazard; certain acts made unlawful; proclamations by the Governor.
(1) When the Commissioner of Agriculture has declared a severe drought emergency to exist and described the general boundaries of the area affected as prescribed in s. 590.081 and the drought emergency continues until the wild lands become so dry or parched as to create an extraordinary fire hazard, the commissioner will advise the Governor that because of prolonged severe drought conditions an extraordinary fire hazard that could endanger life or property exists on wild lands.
(2) The Governor may by proclamation declare an extraordinary fire hazard to exist and describe the general boundaries of the area affected. Any proclamation promulgated by the Governor under authority of this section shall be effective immediately upon filing same with the Department of State and shall remain in effect until, when conditions warrant, an order of revocation of proclamation is made by the Governor and filed with the Department of State.
(3) It is unlawful for any person, except the owner or his or her agents, or persons with express permission of the landowner, or other persons regularly engaged in harvesting, processing, or moving forest or farm products, to enter or travel in any public or private wild land within the area described by proclamation, except on public roads or highways or on well-defined private roads.
(4) Any person violating any of the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 71-293; s. 1, ch. 75-264; s. 955, ch. 97-103; s. 5, ch. 99-292.
590.10 Disposing of lighted substances, etc.
(1) It is unlawful for any person to throw, drop, or dispose of a lighted match, cigarette, cigar, ashes, or other flaming or glowing substance, or any substance or thing which may or does cause a wildfire.
(2) Anyone who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 11, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-pp); s. 7, ch. 99-292.
590.11 Recreational fires.
(1) It is unlawful for any individual or group of individuals to build a warming fire, bonfire, or campfire and leave it unattended while visible flame, smoke, or emissions exist.
(2) Anyone who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 12, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-qq); s. 8, ch. 99-292; s. 40, ch. 2002-295; s. 24, ch. 2013-226.
590.125 Open burning authorized by the Florida Forest Service.
(1) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Certified pile burner” means an individual who successfully completes the pile burning certification program of the Florida Forest Service and possesses a valid pile burner certification number.
(b) “Certified pile burning” means a pile burn conducted in accordance with a written pile burning plan by a certified pile burner.
(c) “Certified prescribed burn manager” means an individual who successfully completes the certified prescribed burning program of the Florida Forest Service and possesses a valid certification number.
(d) “Certified prescribed burning” means prescribed burning in accordance with a written prescription conducted by a certified prescribed burn manager.
(e) “Contained” means that fire and smoldering exist entirely within established or natural firebreaks.
(f) “Completed” means that for:
1. Broadcast burning, no continued lateral movement of fire across the authorized area into entirely unburned fuels within the authorized area.
2. Certified pile burning or pile burning, no visible flames exist.
3. Certified pile burning or pile burning in an area designated as smoke sensitive by the Florida Forest Service, no visible flames, smoke, or emissions exist.
(g) “Gross negligence” means conduct so reckless or wanting in care that it constitutes a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct.
(h) “Pile burning” means the burning of silvicultural, agricultural, land-clearing, or tree-cutting debris originating onsite, which is stacked together in a round or linear fashion, including, but not limited to, a windrow. Pile burning authorized by the Florida Forest Service is a temporary procedure, which operates on the same site for 6 months or less.
(i) “Pile burn plan” means a written plan establishing the method of conducting a certified pile burn.
(j) “Prescribed burning” means the application of fire by broadcast burning for vegetative fuels under specified environmental conditions, while following appropriate measures to guard against the spread of fire beyond the predetermined area to accomplish the planned fire or land management objectives.
(k) “Prescription” means a written plan establishing the conditions and methods for conducting a certified prescribed burn.
(l) “Smoldering” means the continued consumption of fuels, which may emit flames and smoke, after a fire is contained.
(m) “Yard trash” means vegetative matter resulting from landscaping and yard maintenance operations and other such routine property cleanup activities. The term includes materials such as leaves, shrub trimmings, grass clippings, brush, and palm fronds.
(2) NONCERTIFIED BURNING.
(a) Persons may be authorized to broadcast burn or pile burn pursuant to this subsection if:
1. There is specific consent of the landowner or his or her designee;
2. Authorization has been obtained from the Florida Forest Service or its designated agent before starting the burn;
3. There are adequate firebreaks at the burn site and sufficient personnel and firefighting equipment for the containment of the fire;
4. The fire remains within the boundary of the authorized area;
5. The person named responsible in the burn authorization or a designee is present at the burn site until the fire is completed;
6. The Florida Forest Service does not cancel the authorization; and
7. The Florida Forest Service determines that air quality and fire danger are favorable for safe burning.
(b) A new authorization is not required for smoldering that occurs within the authorized burn area unless new ignitions are conducted by the person named responsible in the burn authorization or a designee.
(c) Monitoring the smoldering activity of a burn does not require an additional authorization even if flames begin to spread within the authorized burn area due to ongoing smoldering.
(d) A person who broadcast burns or pile burns in a manner that violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3) CERTIFIED PRESCRIBED BURNING; LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) The application of prescribed burning is a land management tool that benefits the safety of the public, the environment, and the economy of the state. The Legislature finds that:
1. Prescribed burning reduces vegetative fuels within wild land areas. Reduction of the fuel load reduces the risk and severity of wildfire, thereby reducing the threat of loss of life and property, particularly in urban areas.
2. Most of Florida’s natural communities require periodic fire for maintenance of their ecological integrity. Prescribed burning is essential to the perpetuation, restoration, and management of many plant and animal communities. Significant loss of the state’s biological diversity will occur if fire is excluded from fire-dependent systems.
3. Forestland and rangeland constitute significant economic, biological, and aesthetic resources of statewide importance. Prescribed burning on forestland prepares sites for reforestation, removes undesirable competing vegetation, expedites nutrient cycling, and controls or eliminates certain forest pathogens. On rangeland, prescribed burning improves the quality and quantity of herbaceous vegetation necessary for livestock production.
4. The state purchased hundreds of thousands of acres of land for parks, preserves, wildlife management areas, forests, and other public purposes. The use of prescribed burning for management of public lands is essential to maintain the specific resource values for which these lands were acquired.
5. A public education program is necessary to make citizens and visitors aware of the public safety, resource, and economic benefits of prescribed burning.
6. Proper training in the use of prescribed burning is necessary to ensure maximum benefits and protection for the public.
7. As Florida’s population continues to grow, pressures from liability issues and nuisance complaints inhibit the use of prescribed burning. Therefore, the Florida Forest Service is urged to maximize the opportunities for prescribed burning conducted during its daytime and nighttime authorization process.
(b) Certified prescribed burning pertains only to broadcast burning for purposes of silviculture, wildland fire hazard reduction, wildlife management, ecological maintenance and restoration, and agriculture. It must be conducted in accordance with this subsection and:
1. May be accomplished only when a certified prescribed burn manager is present on site with a copy of the prescription and directly supervises the certified prescribed burn until the burn is completed, after which the certified prescribed burn manager is not required to be present.
2. Requires that a written prescription be prepared before receiving authorization to burn from the Florida Forest Service.
a. A new prescription or authorization is not required for smoldering that occurs within the authorized burn area unless new ignitions are conducted by the certified prescribed burn manager.
b. Monitoring the smoldering activity of a certified prescribed burn does not require a prescription or an additional authorization even if flames begin to spread within the authorized burn area due to ongoing smoldering.
3. Requires that the specific consent of the landowner or his or her designee be obtained before requesting an authorization.
4. Requires that an authorization to burn be obtained from the Florida Forest Service before igniting the burn.
5. Requires that there be adequate firebreaks at the burn site and sufficient personnel and firefighting equipment to contain the fire within the authorized burn area.
a. Fire spreading outside the authorized burn area on the day of the certified prescribed burn ignition does not constitute conclusive proof of inadequate firebreaks, insufficient personnel, or a lack of firefighting equipment.
b. If the certified prescribed burn is contained within the authorized burn area during the authorized period, a strong rebuttable presumption shall exist that adequate firebreaks, sufficient personnel, and sufficient firefighting equipment were present.
c. Continued smoldering of a certified prescribed burn resulting in a subsequent wildfire does not by itself constitute evidence of gross negligence under this section.
6. Is considered to be in the public interest and does not constitute a public or private nuisance when conducted under applicable state air pollution statutes and rules.
7. Is considered to be a property right of the property owner if vegetative fuels are burned as required in this subsection.
(c) A property owner or leaseholder or his or her agent, contractor, or legally authorized designee is not liable pursuant to s. 590.13 for damage or injury caused by the fire, including the reignition of a smoldering, previously contained burn, or resulting smoke or considered to be in violation of subsection (2) for burns conducted in accordance with this subsection, unless gross negligence is proven. The Florida Forest Service is not liable for burns for which it issues authorizations.
(d) Any certified burner who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(e) The Florida Forest Service shall adopt rules for the use of prescribed burning and for certifying and decertifying certified prescribed burn managers based on their past experience, training, and record of compliance with this section.
(4) CERTIFIED PILE BURNING.
(a) Certified pile burning pertains to the disposal of piled, naturally occurring debris from agricultural, silvicultural, land-clearing, or tree-cutting debris originating onsite. Certified pile burning must be conducted in accordance with the following:
1. A certified pile burner must ensure, before ignition, that the piles are properly placed and that the content of the piles is conducive to efficient burning.
2. A certified pile burner must ensure that the authorized burn is completed no later than 1 hour after sunset. If the burn is conducted in an area designated by the Florida Forest Service as smoke sensitive, a certified pile burner must ensure that the authorized burn is completed at least 1 hour before sunset.
3. A written pile burning plan must be prepared before receiving authorization from the Florida Forest Service to burn and must be onsite and available for inspection by a department representative.
4. The specific consent of the landowner or his or her agent must be obtained before requesting authorization to burn.
5. An authorization to burn must be obtained from the Florida Forest Service or its designated agent before igniting the burn.
6. There must be adequate firebreaks and sufficient personnel and firefighting equipment at the burn site to contain the burn to the piles authorized.
(b) If a burn is conducted in accordance with paragraph (a), the property owner and his or her agent are not liable under s. 590.13 for damage or injury caused by the fire or resulting smoke, and are not in violation of subsection (2), unless gross negligence is proven.
(c) A certified pile burner who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(d) The Florida Forest Service shall adopt rules regulating certified pile burning. The rules shall include procedures and criteria for certifying and decertifying certified pile burn managers based on past experience, training, and record of compliance with this section.
(5) WILDFIRE HAZARD REDUCTION TREATMENT BY THE FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE.The Florida Forest Service may conduct fuel reduction initiatives, including, but not limited to, burning and mechanical and chemical treatment, on any area of wild land within the state which is reasonably determined to be in danger of wildfire in accordance with the following procedures:
(a) Describe the areas that will receive fuels treatment to the affected local governmental entity.
(b) Publish a treatment notice, including a description of the area to be treated, in a conspicuous manner in at least one newspaper of general circulation in the area of the treatment not less than 10 days before the treatment.
(c) Prepare and send a notice to all landowners in each area designated by the Florida Forest Service as a wildfire hazard area. The notice must describe particularly the area to be treated and the tentative date or dates of the treatment and must list the reasons for and the expected benefits from the wildfire hazard reduction.
(d) Consider any landowner objections to the fuels treatment of his or her property. The landowner may apply to the director of the Florida Forest Service for a review of alternative methods of fuel reduction on the property. If the director or his or her designee does not resolve the landowner objection, the director shall convene a panel made up of the local forestry unit manager, the fire chief of the jurisdiction, and the affected county or city manager, or any of their designees. If the panel’s recommendation is not acceptable to the landowner, the landowner may request further consideration by the Commissioner of Agriculture or his or her designee and shall thereafter be entitled to an administrative hearing pursuant to the provisions of chapter 120.
(6) FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE APPROVAL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPEN BURNING AUTHORIZATION PROGRAMS.
(a) A county or municipality may exercise the authority of the Florida Forest Service, if delegated by the Florida Forest Service under this subsection, to issue authorizations for the burning of yard trash or debris from land-clearing operations. A county’s or municipality’s existing or proposed open burning authorization program must:
1. Be approved by the Florida Forest Service. The Florida Forest Service may not approve a program if it fails to meet the requirements of subsections (2) and (4) and any rules adopted under those subsections.
2. Provide by ordinance or local law the requirements for obtaining and performing a burn authorization that complies with subsections (2) and (4) and any rules adopted under those subsections.
3. Provide for the enforcement of the program’s requirements.
4. Provide financial, personnel, and other resources needed to carry out the program.
(b) If the Florida Forest Service determines that a county’s or municipality’s open burning authorization program does not comply with subsections (2) and (4) and any rules adopted under those subsections, the Florida Forest Service shall require the county or municipality to take necessary corrective actions within 90 days after receiving notice from the Florida Forest Service of its determination.
1. If the county or municipality fails to take the necessary corrective actions within the required period, the Florida Forest Service shall resume administration of the open burning authorization program in the county or municipality and the county or municipality shall cease administration of its program.
2. Each county and municipality administering an open burning authorization program must cooperate with and assist the Florida Forest Service in carrying out the powers, duties, and functions of the Florida Forest Service.
3. A person who violates the requirements of a county’s or municipality’s open burning authorization program, as provided by ordinance or local law enacted pursuant to this subsection, commits a violation of this chapter, punishable as provided in s. 590.14.
(7) DUTIES OF AGENCIES.The Department of Education shall incorporate, where feasible and appropriate, the issues of fuels treatment, including prescribed burning, into its educational materials.
History.s. 9, ch. 99-292; s. 41, ch. 2002-295; s. 21, ch. 2005-210; s. 56, ch. 2011-206; s. 61, ch. 2012-7; s. 25, ch. 2013-226; s. 150, ch. 2014-150.
590.13 Civil liability.Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable for all damages caused by such violation, which damages shall be recoverable in any court of competent jurisdiction. The civil liability attaches whether or not there is criminal prosecution and conviction.
History.s. 17, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-uu); s. 10, ch. 99-292.
590.14 Notice of violation; penalties; legislative intent.
(1) If a Florida Forest Service employee determines that a person has violated chapter 589, this chapter, or any rule adopted by the Florida Forest Service to administer provisions of law conferring duties upon the Florida Forest Service, the Florida Forest Service employee may issue a notice of violation indicating the statute or rule violated. This notice will be filed with the Florida Forest Service and a copy forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement entity for further action if necessary.
(2) In addition to any penalties provided by law, any person who causes a wildfire or permits any authorized fire to escape the boundaries of the authorization or to burn past the time of the authorization is liable for the payment of all reasonable costs and expenses incurred in suppressing the fire or $150, whichever is greater. All costs and expenses incurred by the Florida Forest Service shall be payable to the Florida Forest Service. When such costs and expenses are not paid within 30 days after demand, the Florida Forest Service may take proper legal proceedings for the collection of the costs and expenses. Those costs incurred by an agency acting at the direction of the Florida Forest Service are recoverable by that agency.
(3) The department may also impose an administrative fine in the Class I category pursuant to s. 570.971 for each violation of chapter 589 or this chapter or violation of any rule adopted by the Florida Forest Service to administer law conferring duties upon the Florida Forest Service. The fine shall be based upon the degree of damage, the prior violation record of the person, and whether the person knowingly provided false information to obtain an authorization. The fines shall be deposited in the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service.
(4) A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, if the person:
(a) Fails to comply with any rule or order adopted by the Florida Forest Service to administer provisions of law conferring duties upon it; or
(b) Knowingly makes any false statement or representation in any application, record, plan, or other document required by this chapter or any rules adopted under this chapter.
(5) It is the intent of the Legislature that a penalty imposed by a court under subsection (4) be of a severity that ensures immediate and continued compliance with this section.
(6) The penalties provided in this section shall extend to both the actual violator and the person or persons, firm, or corporation causing, directing, or permitting the violation.
History.s. 15, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 7404(2); s. 1, ch. 20898, 1941; s. 2, ch. 26915, 1951; s. 615, ch. 71-136; s. 82, ch. 93-169; s. 11, ch. 99-292; s. 32, ch. 2000-308; s. 49, ch. 2002-295; s. 57, ch. 2011-206; s. 62, ch. 2012-7; s. 151, ch. 2014-150.
590.15 Burden of proof.In any prosecution or civil action brought under the provisions of this chapter it shall not be necessary for the state or plaintiff to allege and prove absence of the right or authority of the defendant to set or cause to be set the fire, but such right and authority shall be a matter of affirmative defense to be alleged and proved by the defendant.
History.s. 13, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-rr).
590.16 Rewards.The Florida Forest Service, in its discretion, may offer and pay rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person who violates any provision of this chapter.
History.s. 16, ch. 17029, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-tt); ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 12, ch. 99-292; s. 63, ch. 2012-7.
590.25 Penalty for obstructing the prevention, detection, or suppression of wildfires.Whoever interferes with, obstructs or commits any act aimed to obstruct the prevention, detection, or suppression of wildfires by the employees of the Florida Forest Service or any other person engaged in the prevention, detection, or suppression of a wildfire, or who damages or destroys any equipment being used for such purpose, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
History.s. 1, ch. 26833, 1951; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 616, ch. 71-136; s. 13, ch. 99-292; s. 64, ch. 2012-7; s. 26, ch. 2013-226.
590.27 Penalty for mutilating or destroying forestry or fire control signs and posters.Whoever intentionally breaks down, mutilates, removes, or destroys any fire control or forestry sign or poster commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 3, ch. 26833, 1951; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 617, ch. 71-136; s. 14, ch. 99-292.
590.28 Intentional or reckless burning of lands.
(1) Whoever intentionally burns, sets fire to, or causes to be burned or causes any fire to be set to, any wild land or vegetative land clearing debris not owned by, or in the lawful possession of, the person setting such fire or burning such lands or causing such fire to be set or lands to be burned without complying with s. 590.125, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) Whoever recklessly burns, sets fire to, or causes to be burned any wild lands not owned by, or in the lawful possession of, the person setting the fire or burning the lands or causing the fire to be set or lands to be burned, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 29919, 1955; s. 15, ch. 99-292; s. 33, ch. 2000-308.
590.29 Illegal possession of incendiary device.
(1) It is unlawful for a person other than a certified fire or law enforcement instructor to have in his or her possession any incendiary device as defined by subsection (3) with the intent to use such device for the purpose of burning or setting fire to any wild land, if such person is not the owner of, nor, as under a lease, in lawful possession of, the wild land.
(2) The possession of any incendiary device as defined by subsection (3) is prima facie evidence of the intent of the person possessing such device to use such device for the purpose of burning or setting fire to wild land if such person is not the owner of the wild land.
(3) The term “incendiary device” as used in this section is included but not limited to any “slow match” which is any device contrived to accomplish the delayed ignition of a match or matches or other inflammable material by the use of a cigarette, rope, or candle to which such match or matches are attached, or a magnifying glass so focused as to intensify heat on inflammable material and thus cause a fire to start at a subsequent time, and any chemicals or chemically treated paper or material, or other combustible material so arranged or designed as to make possible its use as a delayed firing device.
(4) Anyone who violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
History.s. 1, ch. 29919, 1955; s. 3, ch. 84-7; s. 957, ch. 97-103; s. 16, ch. 99-292.
590.31 Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact.The Governor on behalf of this state is hereby authorized to execute a compact, in substantially the following form, with any one or more of the States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the Legislature hereby signifies in advance its approval and ratification of such compact:

SOUTHEASTERN INTERSTATE FOREST
FIRE PROTECTION COMPACT

ARTICLE I

The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the southeastern region of the United States by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest firefighting services by the member states, by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the compacting states of the region and with states which are party to other regional forest fire protection compacts or agreements, and for more adequate forest protection.

ARTICLE II

This compact shall become operative immediately, as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, which are contiguous have ratified it and congress has given consent thereto. Any state not mentioned in this article which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact, subject to approval by the legislature of each of the member states.

ARTICLE III

In each state, the state forester or officer holding the equivalent position who is responsible for forest fire control shall act as compact administrator for that state and shall consult with like officials of the other member states and shall implement cooperation between such states in forest fire prevention and control.

The compact administrators of the member states shall coordinate the services of the member states and provide administrative integration in carrying out the purposes of this compact.

There shall be established an advisory committee of legislators, forestry commission representatives, and forestry or forest products industries representatives which shall meet from time to time with the compact administrators. Each member state shall name one member of the senate and one member of the house of representatives who shall be designated by that state’s commission on interstate cooperation, or if said commission cannot constitutionally designate the said members, they shall be designated in accordance with laws of that state; and the governor of each member state shall appoint two representatives, one of whom shall be associated with forestry or forest products industries to comprise the membership of the advisory committee. Action shall be taken by a majority of the compacting states, and each state shall be entitled to one vote.

The compact administrators shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the member states.

It shall be the duty of each member state to formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and take such measures as may be necessary to integrate such forest fire plan with the regional forest fire plan formulated by the compact administrators.

ARTICLE IV

Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.

ARTICLE V

Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.

No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance, or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith; provided, that nothing herein shall be construed as relieving any person from liability for his or her own negligent act or omission or as imposing liability for such negligent act or omission upon any state.

All liability, except as otherwise provided hereinafter, that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall be assumed and borne by the requesting state.

Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and subsistence of employees and maintenance of equipment incurred in connection with such request; provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other cost or from loaning such equipment or from donating such service to the receiving member state without charge or cost.

Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state.

For the purposes of this compact the term employee shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.

The compact administrators shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article, in accordance with the laws of the member states.

ARTICLE VI

Ratification of this compact shall not be construed to affect any existing statute so as to authorize or permit curtailment or diminution of the forest firefighting forces, equipment, services or facilities of any member state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between any federal agency and a member state or states.

ARTICLE VII

The compact administrators may request the United States Forest Service to act as a research and coordinating agency of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state, and the United States Forest Service may accept responsibility for preparing and presenting to the compact administrators its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of any federal agency engaged in forest fire prevention and control may attend meetings of the compact administrators.

ARTICLE VIII

The provisions of articles IV and V of this compact which relate to mutual aid in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires shall be operative as between any state party to this compact and any other state which is party to a regional forest fire protection compact in another region; provided, that the legislature of such other state shall have given its assent to such mutual aid provisions of this compact.

ARTICLE IX

This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the legislature or the governor of such state, as the laws of such state shall provide, takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until 6 months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executives of all states then parties to the compact.

History.s. 1, ch. 29635, 1955; s. 958, ch. 97-103.
590.32 Compact; effective date; ratification.When the Governor shall have executed the compact on behalf of this state and shall have caused a verified copy thereof to be filed with the Department of State and when the compact shall have been ratified by one or more of the states named in s. 590.31, then the compact shall become operative and effective as between this state and such other state or states. The Governor is hereby authorized and directed to take such action as may be necessary to complete the exchange of official documents as between this state and any other state ratifying the compact.
History.s. 2, ch. 29635, 1955; ss. 10, 35, ch. 69-106.
590.33 State compact administrator; compact advisory committee.In pursuance of art. III of the compact, the director of the Florida Forest Service shall act as compact administrator for Florida of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact during his or her term of office as director, and his or her successor as compact administrator shall be his or her successor as director of the Florida Forest Service. As compact administrator, he or she shall be an ex officio member of the advisory committee of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact, and chair ex officio of the Florida members of the advisory committee. There shall be four members of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact Advisory Committee from Florida. Two of the members from Florida shall be members of the Legislature of Florida, one from the Senate designated by the President of the Senate and one from the House of Representatives designated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the terms of any such members shall terminate at the time they cease to hold legislative office, and their successors as members shall be named in like manner. The Governor shall appoint the other two members from Florida, one of whom shall be associated with forestry or forest products industries. The terms of such members shall be 3 years and such members shall hold office until their respective successors shall be appointed and qualified. Vacancies occurring in the office of such members from any reason or cause shall be filled by appointment by the Governor for the unexpired term. The director of the Florida Forest Service as compact administrator for Florida may delegate, from time to time, to any deputy or other subordinate in his or her department or office, the power to be present and participate, including voting as his or her representative or substitute at any meeting of or hearing by or other proceeding of the compact administrators or of the advisory committee. The terms of each of the initial four memberships, whether appointed at said time or not, shall begin upon the date upon which the compact shall become effective in accordance with art. II of said compact. Any member of the advisory committee may be removed from office by the Governor upon charges and after a hearing.
History.s. 3, ch. 29635, 1955; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 959, ch. 97-103; s. 17, ch. 99-292; s. 156, ch. 2010-102; s. 36, ch. 2011-34; s. 74, ch. 2012-5; s. 65, ch. 2012-7.
590.34 State compact administrator and compact advisory committee members; powers; aid from other state agencies.There is hereby granted to the director of the Florida Forest Service, as compact administrator and chair ex officio of the Florida members of the advisory committee, and to the members from Florida of the advisory committee all the powers provided for in the compact and all the powers necessary or incidental to the carrying out of the compact in every particular. All officers of Florida are hereby authorized and directed to do all things falling within their respective provinces and jurisdiction necessary or incidental to the carrying out of the compact in every particular; it being hereby declared to be the policy of the state to perform and carry out the said compact and to accomplish the purposes thereof. All officers, bureaus, departments, and persons of and in the state government or administration of the state are hereby authorized and directed at convenient times and upon request of the compact administrator or of the advisory committee to furnish information data relating to the purposes of the compact possessed by them or any of them to the compact administrator of the advisory committee. They are further authorized to aid the compact administrator or the advisory committee by loan of personnel, equipment, or other means in carrying out the purposes of the compact.
History.s. 4, ch. 29635, 1955; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 960, ch. 97-103; s. 18, ch. 99-292; s. 66, ch. 2012-7.
590.35 Construction of ss. 590.31-590.34.Any powers herein granted to the Florida Forest Service shall be regarded as in aid of and supplemental to and in no case a limitation upon any of the powers vested in the Florida Forest Service by other laws of Florida or by the laws of the States of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia or by the Congress or the terms of the compact.
History.s. 5, ch. 29635, 1955; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 67, ch. 2012-7.
590.42 Federally funded fire protection assistance programs.
(1) The Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may enter into agreements with the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States in order to participate in the Federal Rural Community Fire Protection Program authorized by Pub. L. No. 92-419, whereby the Federal Government provides financial assistance to the states on a matching basis of up to 50 percent of expenditures for such purposes.
(2) With respect to the formulation of projects relating to fire protection of livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, rangeland, woodland, farmsteads, or other improvements, and other values in rural areas, for which such federal matching funds are available, any participating county or fire department may contribute to the nonfederal matching share and may also contribute such other nonfederal cooperation as may be deemed necessary by the Florida Forest Service.
(3) The provisions of this section are supplementary to the provisions of s. 125.27.
History.s. 1, ch. 73-243; s. 19, ch. 99-292; s. 68, ch. 2012-7.
590.61 Forestry arson alert program.The forestry arson alert program is hereby established within the department. The purpose of this program is to:
(1) Engage in any lawful activity to enhance public awareness of the economic costs, environmental damage, and cultural deprivations which accompany forest fires.
(2) Engage in any lawful activity to enhance public awareness of the importance of quick reports of forest arson and of accurate reporting of information to law enforcement officials to the apprehension of persons engaged in forest arson.
(3) Reward public-spirited citizens who cooperate with law enforcement officials in the apprehension and conviction of persons engaged in forest arson.
(4) Provide public recognition to public-spirited citizens who contribute to the prevention of forest arson through education programs and assistance to law enforcement officials.
History.s. 24, ch. 92-151.