Permanent summer burn ban proposed |

Permanent summer burn ban proposed

A summer ban on open fires could become the rule rather than the exception in Garfield County.

In an attempt to counter the threat of another fire- and smoke-filled summer, Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper is calling for outdoor burn restrictions to run every year from May 1 to Oct. 31.

“Nine times out of 10, it’s so dry we have to put it on anyway,” Piper said. “It’s easier to take it off than enact it in the first place.

“I’d just assume if you have to do any burning, do it before May 1,” he said.

Piper said the restrictions would not include burning in fire rings or barbecue stands in campgrounds and parks.

He envisions restrictions placed across Garfield County that could be modified by local fire districts to meet local needs.

“It’s going to be another drought year and we just want to get ahead of it,” Piper said. “The wildfire danger is something we need to be paying attention to year-round in the West.”

The restrictions will be pitched at a Feb. 18 meeting of the five fire chiefs in Garfield County.

Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District chief Ron Leach said he agrees with an automatic restriction on open burning.

“The burn ban is a good thing,” he said. “We’re looking at a winter that is pretty much a winter drought. We think the wildfire danger probability for 2003 will be similar to 2002.

“Our plans are focused on prevention and preparation,” Leach said.

In addition to the automatic fire ban, Piper has proposed a local emergency planning council to include the Red Cross, the local health department, police departments and fire districts. It would meet monthly or quarterly to discuss issues, plan drills and share information.

Leach plans to supply each rural subdivision in his district with a pager to offer daily updates and quickly inform residents of impending danger.

“This would be the quickest way of getting the word out,” Leach said.

Firefighters plan to visit subdivisions to make residents aware of wildfire dangers and help them prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The Carbondale district also expects to receive two brush fire trucks from the U.S. Forest Service at almost no cost to the district.

“That is saving taxpayers a lot of money,” he said.

Leach is also gathering temporary firefighters to patrol areas prone to wildfires.

“If there is a start,” he said, “we could jump on it immediately.”

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