Important information from the Utah Department of Natural Resources.
Fire officials are issuing a caution as warmer weather arrives. Already this year, a handful of fires that were initially ignited by individuals wanting to clear dead grass or dispose of organic waste have escaped control when they were not being tended and flared up or when unexpected winds carried embers into dry grass.
Every spring, fire departments throughout Utah respond to dozens of fence line and debris burns that escape control. These fires destroy rangeland, private property and homes. As conditions dry out, these are typically the first wildland fires of the season and they are all preventable. Fire management officers recommend taking 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 have fire out cold before afternoon winds develop.
- 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.
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. Yard debris and slash piles are governed by stricter county and city laws, so the public should consult local ordinances. In addition, many areas are subject to Department of Environmental Quality requirements.
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 major source of air pollution. Many landfills have sites available for organic material disposal. Cities and counties restrict open burning to October through May and a permit is required in most cases after May 31.
Editorial: Wildland subdivisions would be wise to plan for fire
The Pine Meadow subdivision, located in the rugged, wooded terrain north of Interstate 80 in Summit County, has already begun laying the groundwork for annexation into the North Summit Fire District. No doubt homeowners there still have vivid memories of last summer’s fast-moving Rockport fire that darkened their skies but thankfully never jumped the freeway. They are smart to be joining forces with the North Summit firefighters who proved their extraordinary skills by preventing any loss of life and significantly limiting property damage during that sudden conflagration.
The leaders of the Summit Park Homeowners Association are also trying to make their neighborhood safer by establishing a fund to maintain their existing firebreaks. But they are running into resistance from some homeowners. Their hope is to raise funds by making their HOA dues mandatory. As proposed, the fee would be $50 per year, which seems like a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with wildfire prevention.
Ten years ago, Summit Park was praised for its community-wide fire prevention efforts that included public education, removal of deadwood and clearing branches away from structures.
The neighborhood also applied for and received funding to establish a fire break along its borders. At the time Summit Park was heralded as a “Firewise Community.”
We are hoping that residents come around again and support their leaders’ efforts to be proactive before the summer heat and wildfire worries return.
And they aren’t the only communities that should be engaging in similar discussions. From the foothills of the Uinta Mountains to the Jordanelle, and from Deer Crest to the northern reaches of the Snyderville basin, property owners, neighbors, service districts and associations should be taking a hard look at their fire protection plans and setting aside funds to ensure they are carried out.
When the next wildfire ignites in their area they will be considered heroes for their foresight.
As of November 1, burn permits are not required for areas of Unincorporated Summit County. Please contact Summit County Dispatch at 435-336-3600 before starting the burn. This will prevent the need to unnecessarily respond to a reported fire since they have been alerted of the burn.
However, the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is still requiring that before you burn you contact them to confirm that the clearing index is suitable for a burn. Call them at 801-536-4400. Visit http://www.airquality.utah.gov/Compliance/OpenBurning/index.htm for more information on DAQ requirements.
Burn permits will again be required starting June 1, 2014.
Click on link above to listen to KPCW overview on Preparedness Fair
Open residential pile burning (tree trimmings, property maintenance debris, etc.) will be allowed through October 30 but WILL REQUIRE THE FOLLOWING PERMITS:
If you live in an incorporated city in Summit County (Coalville, Echo, Francis, Henefer, Kamas, Oakley), you must fill out an on-line application through the Utah Division of Air Quality. Applications can be found at http://www.airquality.utah.gov/Compliance/OpenBurning/form/index.php select your county and city and begin the process.
If you are not within a city limits, you must contact the Summit County Fire Warden to obtain a permit. The Fire Warden can be reached at 435-640-2075, permits will be issued Mondays through Thursdays, so plan ahead for the weekend.
In addition, you MUST notify Summit County Dispatch at 435-336-3600 prior to any burning.
If you live within the Park City Fire District limits, burning is not allowed at this time. Visit their website, www.pcfd.org/permits/ for more information on when burning is allowed.