To better locate the location of an individual conducting an open burn, the council passed a motion to require permit applicants to show picture identification and a document with proof of residence before one is granted.
"The permits are intended for those cooking food over a ground fire pit," Brazil Fire Department Chief Jim Smith said. "There is no intention to deny the residents that right."
Part of the reason for the move was some individuals had been applying for an overabundance of permits and others had been signing in under fake names.
"When you have some people coming in to get dozens of permits a year, it throws up a red flag that they might not just be cooking hot dogs and roasting marshmallows," Smith said. "We have also had cases where people sign their name as "Who Cares," "Mickey Mouse" and other aliases that are not real."
Smith added burn permits are not required for cookouts using a charcoal/gas grill or an above ground grill with a perforated cover.
"We consider those the same as barbeque grills and no permit is needed to use those," he said. "However, perforations in the cover may be no larger than one-quarter of an inch, and it is illegal to burn trash or leaves anywhere in the city limits."
Smith told The Brazil Times his department responds to all reports of potential illegal burns, but do not necessarily stop to question the individual or group.
"Most of the calls we get come from a neighbor saying they see black smoke or a large flame," he said. "We then check the records to see if they have received a burn permit, then we go by in either the small truck or Blazer, and if we just see someone cooking and nothing looks suspicious, we won't stop because there is no need to hassle them."
Reports are common as Smith said his department has received 14 calls in the last 30 days alone about burning concerns, but added they do not treat them as emergencies.
Having the individual conducting the burn show identification and proof of residency has made things easier on the fire department to respond to calls.
"When there is a legitimate address provided, it makes things more efficient for us to check things out," Smith said. "Plus, if someone sends their friend or family member, who may live in another area, they may not be familiar with the regulations set here in the city and the homeowner is ultimately responsible for any illegal actions taking place on their property."
Along with state regulations concerning open burning, the City of Brazil also has its own ordinance. According to Section 97.02 (B) of the city's Code of Ordinances, "No fire intended or used as a recreational or ceremonial fire ... shall be used for the purposes of disposing any household trash, garbage, refuse, outdoor waste, foliage, branches, leaves, plastic and building materials, waste materials and waste substances, tires, treated wood or materials containing asbestos."
Smith told The Brazil Times the restrictions are in place to protect residents and homes in the city.
"It is important to be smart about when you are burning as well," he said. "If there is adverse weather conditions or other unsafe factors, it is imperative to stop and think not just for the safety and health of yourself, but others around you also."
He added there are fines in place which can be levied on violators, but said most are willing to comply once they are told to stop the illegal burning.
"We would have to call the Brazil Police Department to come write a ticket, which is a $250 fine for the first violation," Smith said. "However, if we tell someone to pull the illegal materials out of the fire or extinguish it, they will comply more times than not, but we will have a ticket issued if there is blatant disregard for the situation."
Smith reiterated a burn permit is required basically only for fire pits on the ground, not above ground grills.
"Those burning things on the ground are the biggest problem we encounter," Smith said. "There are a lot of safety issues involved with ground fires, especially if they are not contained in a ring."
He added it is important for the homeowner to get the burn permit themselves, as they are responsible for their own actions.
"It doesn't cost anything and takes only about five minutes to get a permit," Smith said. "Since we started requiring identification, there have been no problems and with some people abusing the privilege, I could see there being a limit on how many can be received in the future."
To view the city's ordinance regarding open and illegal burning, or any other ordinances, log on to www.brazil.in.gov and click on the "City Ordinances" header.