Region 8 city reviews burn ordinance - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Region 8 city reviews burn ordinance

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Officials in the city of Paragould Monday night reviewed an ordinance which regulates controlled burning. According to Fire Chief Kevin Lang, the city has always had a fire ordinance that regulates residents who burn leaves and brush. He said the fire department made at least 50 unnecessary fire runs in 2010.

"It's in the infancy stages. We're just going to talk about some different options we have on how to deal with it. Possibly look at some ways other cities have dealt with it," said Lang.

Lang said firefighters have arrived on scene to find brush piles on fire instead of structures. He said many residents pass by homes and see heavy smoke. That smoke sometimes appears to be from a home.

"Someone may be burning leaves or burning some tree limbs in their back yard. Someone drives by, they think, hey there's smoke coming and they think it's coming from the house. We get paged to a structure fire and get there. We've got somebody burning leaves or a small brush pile in their back yard," said Lang.

Lang said the city is looking at revising the current ordinance. Residents would be required to notify the fire department of a burn by calling the fire department for a burning permit. The permit would be given as long as weather conditions are ideal and residents understand the rules. It would be provided at no cost, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill told Region 8 News Monday.

"We could possibly stop some of those false runs," said Lang.

"If you want to burn, you call to get a permit. You call the station and we give you the rules on what you can and can't burn, what the hours are. If it's too windy, we don't allow you to burn," said Lang. "We're going to tell you up front. You can't do this. You can't burn that. You can't burn this. This is the hours you can burn. This is what you're responsible for and you have to stay with it until it's out."

Lang said the price of fuel is too high for the fire department to run to homes when there isn't a fire.

"It doesn't matter what you're doing. When you're running a fire, that's emergency vehicles on the road, so you're endangering not only the lives of the firefighters but the public as well," said Lang. "We could be on one side of town actually working a fire, and then when you have one on the other side, then we start breaking a few guys loose and responding the truck from another area."

Lang said some fire trucks use 75 gallons of fuel. At a price tag of $3.25/gallon, those trucks cost $243.75 to fill completely. Some trucks get four miles per gallon. Lang said off-duty firefighters are paid by the hour, and are paid when they respond to a call.

"The trucks that are going to run on most basic fires are going to better than that (gas mileage). They're not going to be great, but they're going to do better," said Lang. "It's manpower. It's wear and tear on vehicles. It's fuel. It adds up."

"What we're looking to do possibly, is the first time we come out if we have to come see you about something if you haven't gotten a permit, we'll educate you about the ordinance. We'll tell you what you can and cannot do. Tell you what the rules are," said Lang.

Get caught violating the ordinance a second time, Lang said, the person responsible for the fire will be ticketed.

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