Intellectual Nourishment

The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you are doing, someone else does.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Numerous Early Season Wildfires Caused by Private Burning

Jason Curry
FFSL Public Information Officer
801)538-7302, (801)703-0225

Salt Lake City, Utah – Fire officials are issuing a caution as warmer
weather arrives. In March, more than 30 yard, fenceline and debris burns
escaped, requiring action by fire fighters. The fires occurred around
the state from Washington to Morgan Counties and they were all
preventable. Fire management officers recommend that individuals and
agencies take some simple precautions before igniting to ensure fewer
escaped fires.

● Clear away vegetation to create firebreaks between burn areas
and adjacent fields, structures and trees
● Never burn on windy days, check your local weather forecast and
plan to wrap up before afternoon winds
● Keep a charged hose and a shovel nearby (if a hose isn’t
possible, 5-gallon water buckets)
● Never leave the fire unattended
● Notify your local fire department of your intention to burn;
some departments may offer to put a fire engine on standby at your burn

Notification of the nearest fire department before burning is required
by law in ALL CASES (failure to do so is a Class B misdemeanor). Many of
the costly and embarrassing experiences so far this year could have been
avoided with a simple phone call. Preparation beforehand can make the
difference between success and disaster. In addition to preparations,
slow and gradual lighting of an area allows for greater control of a
fire’s pace.

“People have used fire throughout history and it can be a useful
tool,” says State Forester, Dick Buehler. He goes on to say,
“we’re asking people to be more careful when they burn and
take some time to prepare and be as safe as possible.”

Open burning is regulated on a state level by state law and rule. Most
counties and cities also have ordinances, so, people wishing to burn
fields, ditches and waste piles should determine whether it is legal to
burn before lighting anything. The closed fire season begins June 1;
until that date agricultural fires may be lit without a burn permit as
long as notification is made. Yard debris and slash piles are governed
by stricter county and city laws, so the public should consult local

It may not be widely known, but it is always the responsibility of the
person lighting and tending the fire to take the needed precautions and
prevent its escape. A permit or notification call does not relieve a
person from liability if the fire gets away or damages someone else’s
property, so good judgment is advised. Fire suppression is expensive.

If the fire gets away – then what?
Despite preparations, fire can still escape. If things begin to get out
of hand, regardless of whether the fire is legal or not, it should be
PUT OUT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. If it escapes control, do not put
yourself or others at risk, call 911 immediately.

Burning is not the only option for getting rid of debris; in fact it is
a source of air pollution. Many landfills have sites available for
organic material disposal. Cities and counties restrict open burning to
October through May; a permit is required in most cases after May 31.

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