Greetings Theodore Dawes Community,
I would first like to apologize for being so late with the new Tail Board Talk. It has been a busy past couple of weeks here at your Fire Rescue department. Several of our members and I were out of town at the Super Bowl of fire department conferences. We attended the FDIC (Fire Department International Conference) There we had multiple opportunities for training and to see some of the new, latest, and greatest, tools and equipment of the trade. It was a busy 4 days to say the least. I think I walked more in three days than I have in three years. It’s the first time I had to rush between classes since my college years. We all returned with grand ideas, newly acquired information, and a zeal to put those things to work to provide better services to our communities.
Prior to and after the trip, I have been investigating the laws and rules as they apply to our department and the community, when it comes to burn bans. I touched on burn bans last month and since then I have had the opportunity discuss the ADEM burn ban with an ADEM official. The ADEM burn ban began on May 1st and continues until October 31st. It has nothing to do with weather conditions, it is in place to enforce the Federal Clean Air Act. So, you may ask, what does it have to do with TDFR and our communities. Long story short is that there is not supposed to be any burning regardless of weather conditions, it’s all about the clean air. The other side of that coin is that the fire department does not have the legal authority to extinguish your fire. However, there are a couple of caveats to that, we will extinguish a fire if it is deemed unsafe or if you are burning illegal materials such as household garbage or construction type debris, which is ironic since there is a burn ban and not supposed to be any burning. Everyone should also know that anyone can file a complaint with ADEM to report a nuisance fire. It’s as simple as going to the ADEM web page and filing the complaint. I was told it’s even in RED. You should also know that when ADEM receives a complaint, they may not send someone out immediately, it might be a day or two before they are able to respond to the complaint. Even if no live fire exists, they can still issue a fine. They only have to see remnants of a fire and can issue a fine and those fines can range up to $25,000.00.
If TDFR receives a call for a complaint of smoke from a trash fire, we will respond and politely ask you to extinguish your fire and advise you of the ADEM Burn Ban and the applicable laws. We also inform you of the complaint process as well as the possible fines.
Please be respectful of one another and think before you consider burning. Bagging that material and/or just hauling it off would certainly be cheaper than the possible ADEM fines.
Franklin Byrd, Fire Chief