(1) The Florida Forest Service has the following powers, authority, and duties to:
(a) Enforce the provisions of this chapter;
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 590.02
- Broadcast burning: means the burning of agricultural or natural vegetation by allowing fire to move across a predetermined area of land. See Florida Statutes 590.015
- Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
- 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. See Florida Statutes 590.015
- Fiscal year: The fiscal year is the accounting period for the government. For the federal government, this begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2006 begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006.
- 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. See Florida Statutes 590.015
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
- Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
- Open burning: means any outdoor fire or open combustion of material that produces visible emissions. See Florida Statutes 590.015
- person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- political subdivision: include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- veteran: means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under honorable conditions only or who later received an upgraded discharge under honorable conditions, notwithstanding any action by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on individuals discharged or released with other than honorable discharges. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- Wildfire: means any vegetative fire that threatens to destroy life, property, or natural resources. See Florida Statutes 590.015
(b) Prevent, detect, and suppress wildfires wherever they may occur on public or private land in this state and do 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 wildland firefighters which must contain a minimum of 40 hours of structural firefighter training, a minimum of 40 hours of emergency medical training, and a minimum of 376 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 set 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(29) 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.