Fire chiefs warmly welcome summer burn ban proposal
RIFLE – Fire chiefs from districts throughout Garfield County endorsed a permanent, countywide open-burning ban Tuesday. The ban would automatically restrict open burning in Garfield County every year between May 1 and Oct. 31.The chiefs, representing the five fire protection districts in the county, discussed the possible ban in a morning meeting at the Garfield County Communications Center. It will be presented to the Garfield Board of County commissioners for approval on March 10. “If everyone shows up and says, `This is what my district wants,'” the commission would be more inclined to listen, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office emergency manager Jim Sears said. The ban could be temporarily repealed during a particularly wet year, but would come back the next year.As the county’s policy now stands, a burn ban must be approved by the county commissioners, then be reinstated every month until conditions warrant its cancellation. The proposed restrictions would be modeled after recent Garfield County burn bans and two Mesa County ordinances: one that bans burning from May 1 until the fall, and another that shifts the responsibility for declaring a fire ban from the county commissioners to the sheriff. The Garfield County restriction would outlaw burning slash, burning ditches, having bonfires and doing other types of open burning during the six-month period from May 1 to Oct. 31. It could also nix the operation of chain saws without a spark arrester and having a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby, and limit the use of acetylene torches. The restrictions, however, would not include burning within fire rings or barbecue stands, such as those found in campgrounds and parks. Farm and ranch burning could also be allowed under some circumstances. Similar burn ban requests have been made to the county commissioners the past two years, but those requests were shot down. This time, however, the fire chiefs plan to make a united front and will explain just how important the ban is for the county’s safety – especially after the rash of fires in the county in 2002 and continued drought.”I think it would be proactive. People could get out front,” said Glenwood Springs & Rural Fire Chief Mike Piper said.Even if county officials reject the idea, bans can be enacted by each fire protection district. The five districts cover much of the county, but there would still be areas that would not be affected by district bans. “I just think a May 1 to Oct. 31 ban should be the way,” Piper said.Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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