Open burning lights discussion

Laws regarding open burning sparked conversation during a Pulaski County Fire and Rescue Association meeting on July 2.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Compliance and Enforcement Manager Brock Jones was invited to speak with local emergency responders about open burning laws and what they can do when there is a question of laws being broken.

Jones said there are a few exceptions to burning vegetation but burning of trash is prohibited.

“You guys know what the problems are and what you see day to day. There are rules that apply to businesses and residents and everyone has to comply with them,” Jones said.

He mentioned that farmers can burn for maintenance purposes. If they are burning to convert woods to farmland then it is a change of land use and they would need approval from IDEM before the burning could occur. There are also weather conditions such as high wind that would prohibit maintenance burning.

“There are multiple different ways to dispose of clean material, ideally burning is the last possible solution,” Jones said.

If an emergency responder details the open burning incident that he or she encounters, they can notify IDEM by using the department website.

“As a public official, if you guys report it and you see it and you document it — what they were burning, when they were burning, how much of it, if they have firefighting equipment on site— it is just as good as if someone from IDEM sees it. We can pursue appropriate action based on the information that you provide to us,” Jones said.

IDEM can then issue violation letters or course of action letters.

Jones also mentioned that fire departments are required to work with IDEM when they prepare to burn a house or conduct training with open burning.

In other business:

• Automatic mutual aid agreements were presented to the various firefighters in the room. The mutual aid maps and agreements will allow for the dispatch center to automatically dispatch fire departments when a structure fire happens. Once the agreements are signed, the dispatch center will begin notifying mutual aid.

• Although a variety of the activities that were scheduled for the fair have been canceled or postponed because of the soggy earth conditions at the fairgrounds, members of the association decided to hold the water ball contest at the Winamac fire station. Fire chief Bill Weaver said he would seek approval for the department to use the street in front of the station on Thursday at 6 p.m. The dunk tank fundraiser has been canceled.

• The Pink Heals Tour that was supposed to visit Pulaski County this year will not be, according to association secretary Sherry Fagner.

• Technical radio issues that firefighters and emergency responders are facing may soon be fixed by Motorola by changing of transmitter sites and reprogramming VHF radios. That reprogramming will cost money and take some time.

• Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover is working on purchasing remote controls for the weather sirens. The remote capability will allow the dispatch center to activate the sirens instead of firefighters having to travel to the station to activate the sirens. The sirens can be activated without activating the sirens in other parts of the county. Hoover suggested the fire departments and emergency responders discuss how often they would like the sirens to be tested.

• The county is also looking to replace emergency responder radios and is trying different companies to compare feasibility, function and service. Steve Harvey, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said in four years the current radios will no longer be covered by a service contract and parts will no longer be made for them. The plan is to slowly replace the radios over the next five years.

• The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3, 6:30 p.m., at the Star City Fire Department.

Pulaski County Journal

114 W. Main Street
Winamac, IN 46996

Office Number: (574) 946-6628
Fax Number: (574) 946-7471

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