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April 04, 2013 8:09 am

EDITORIAL: Springtime burning should be planned, reported and managed

Written by Ilene Olson

It’s springtime in Park County. There’s no need to verify the month or date on the calendar; smoke in the air from (mostly) controlled burns provides ample evidence of the change of seasons.



No one knows that better than Powell’s volunteer firefighters, who often respond to multiple fire calls in a day, several times per week, during the spring burning season.

While it’s often necessary for farmers and landowners to burn stubble or rejuvenate vegetation on their land, it’s also important that controlled burns be planned with the weather in mind to prevent them from going out of control. A quick call to the National Weather Service in Riverton at 800-211-1448 or a glance at a reliable forecast will help in that planning process by advising of days and times when wind could fan flames out of control.

Powell Fire Chief Joey Darrah also advises soaking adjacent areas to prevent the fire going out of control, staying with the fire to monitor it and having plenty of water on hand while burning in case something unexpected happens, such as a change in the wind direction.

Landowners who start fires and walk away while they’re still burning risk loss to their neighbors’ property as well as their own.

Rural residents planning controlled burns also should call the Park County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at 754-8700 or 307-527-8700 in advance to advise dispatchers about the location and anticipated time of planned burns.

This simple but important step prevents needless calls for firefighters to put out fires that actually are controlled burns. When dispatchers are aware that a controlled burn is planned for a specific location, they can take that into consideration when someone calls in to report a fire in that area.

When that doesn’t happen, the fire department is called out needlessly, firefighters have to leave their businesses or jobs, and taxpayers foot the bill for unnecessary fuel costs and wear and tear on fire equipment.

Darrah stresses that firefighters don’t mind putting out fires when a planned burn gets out of control. But they don’t appreciate being called away from their jobs and families for fire calls that result from landowners’ failure to call in their plans for controlled burns.

Following these common-sense guidelines will reduce the number of out-of-control burns and needless fire calls and may prevent damage to your property and that of your neighbors.

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