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  • Last modified 81 days ago (Aug. 31, 2017)

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Burn resolution proposal gets public airing

Staff writer

A proposed burn resolution backed by county fire chiefs will be touched up before county commissioners take it up for a vote.

Landowners voiced concerns at a Friday night meeting at Marion County Lake Hall.

The proposal includes consulting National Weather Service’s rangeland fire danger index to judge whether a fire should be started.

A much-discussed topic was a proposed requirement that dispatchers are notified one hour before setting a fire, and if a fire is not started within 60 minutes of the estimated time, no burning will take place that day.

Goessel fire chief Matt Voth said some people call in the morning, decide conditions are good later that day, and then start the fire when it is not anticipated.

“That’s no longer acceptable,” Voth said.

Landowners said a time frame as stringent as one hour isn’t always practical to have everything ready for the burn.

Fire chiefs were open to adjusting the required time between notification and burning to read “zero to two hours.”

Fire chiefs would have authority to issue temporary burn bans when their resources are stretched too thin to have adequate volunteers. A temporary ban would expire after three hours, but could be extended for two additional hours as needed. They also could cancel a burn ban sooner than three hours.

Voth explained that when a fire department is busy with one emergency, they often cannot staff an out-of-control fire.

“We are losing people,” Voth said. “It’s getting harder and harder to find people to do this.”

One member of the audience said the provision gives fire chiefs “a lot of authority” and he hopes they will use it wisely.

The proposal includes fines of $100 to $1,000 for violating the regulation. A violator can be ordered to pay $75 per hour for each vehicle on site, $25 per hour for each firefighter on site, and all losses to equipment.

Although some landowners appeared uncomfortable with potential penalties, Chuck McLinden, who helped write the proposed resolution, said he is the one who pushed for a penalty clause.

“If you guys are trying to do it right, this will never affect you,” McLinden said.

Removed from an earlier version was a requirement that a landowner have 250 gallons of water available with a pump capable of 100 psi output.

Last modified Aug. 31, 2017

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