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Friday, May 6, 2016

Burn permits protect neighbors and homes

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The sound of a crackling fire filling the crisp autumn air with its warmth is the epitome of the fall season for many people, but officials urge Clay County residents to see if their community has a burn ordinance in effect before striking a match this fall.

Brazil City Fire Chief Jim Smith said residents living within the city limits need to apply for a burn permit at City Hall.

"People need to have their name on the list before they strike a match," Chief Smith said. "The Brazil City burn ordinance has been on the books since 2002, and most people already know about it, so they really need to make the effort to get one. The whole process only takes a few minutes."

Smith explained that residents would be given a copy of the ordinance to read which states what materials can be burned and the size of the fire allowed. Afterward, the resident may ask any questions they have and then sign the required documents with the date and time they are planning to have a scheduled burn or a bonfire.

Smith said "the ordinance is there to protect neighbors" and the nearby homes within the neighborhood in case a fire should get out of control, or someone is burning less than desirable materials, like tires.

"Our belief is that, if you wouldn't roast a hot dog over the fire you started, then you shouldn't be burning anything at all," Smith said, adding that the permit also gives the department notice of areas where recreational burns are occurring, which could help avoid the embarrassing situation of sending out a fire truck to a family bonfire.

"We don't want to deprive families from having fun," Smith said. "It also saves the unnecessary wear and tear on department vehicles."

City firefighters are allowed to issue a citation to the resident if they are in violation of the terms of the permit by having too large of a fire or burning restricted materials.

Without a county burn ordinance, volunteer firefighters rely upon state regulations, which are vague, but do allow residents to have recreational fires.

"There are a number of regulations about what can be and can't be burned," President of the local Volunteer Fire Chief's Association Kevin Orme said, adding that people need to remember the to use common sense and remember basic fire safety when starting a recreational fire. "Basically, people need to remember to clear combustibles from the area, don't build the fire pit area too large that it can not be controlled, keep the fire pit away from structures and vehicles, do not use flammable liquids to start the fire and maintain a safe distance from the fire once it is lit."

Orme agrees with Smith about using department equipment unnecessarily, and urges all residents to contact officials about starting a controlled burn or a recreational fire.

"We would much rather county residents contact the Clay County Justice Center to report a bonfire that to have us take a fire truck to their house needlessly," he said.

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I want to you to consider expanding on the story on burning permits. Trash burning is a real problem in Clay County. I asked a town leader where I live, if people were allowed to burn in town and they confirmed they were. The problem is it is against State law to burn trash in Indiana. The laws do not seem vague to me. Here is a pointer to State laws. http://www.in.gov/idem/permits/guide/air...

While I completely understand that local fire fighters do not want to cause "unnecessary wear and tear on department vehicles", I would also like to see no more wear and tear on our children's lungs from the toxins generated by the daily trash burning.

I respectfully hope small towns and all of Clay County embraces State laws and enforces them like the city of Brazil has. It's a serious health issue and other counties in Indiana have banned trash burning county wide. Clay County could easily become a healthier place to live if trash burning was made a part of our past by enforcing present laws.

Thank you for considering my e-mail.

As a footnote, while typing this I had to get up and close my windows because someone is burning. It is sad to say I never can leave my windows open all day and have to run my air conditioner even during nice weather if I want to breath fresher air.

-- Posted by localgal on Wed, Oct 17, 2007, at 2:33 PM

localgal is absolutly right. Last night our neighbors had a loud party till one am in the morning. We woke to have our first walk and could barely breath as their firepit smoke filled our property. I wish the state could force our local agencies to enforce our laws which are very clear. Also, if you have a business, such as firewood for sale etc outside the city. You may not burn your excess wood. This too, is another problem in our area. People burn all the time! They do not want to have trash pick up. When can we have law and order in Clay county? We pay high taxes out here just like city people, however we are not represented in many areas of protection from lawbreakers. So yes its very frustrating.

Thanks localgal for your letter which supports my own point of view.

-- Posted by Pearl2083 on Wed, Oct 17, 2007, at 4:54 PM

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