Three of Barton County’s fire chiefs met with the Barton County Commission Monday to discuss the county’s burn permit system and to encourage that the provisions continue to be carried out.
A few years ago, after a significant study of other department systems, the county changed its method of permitting open burning.
Now, anyone who plans to do agricultural burning needs to have a permit on file with the county, received through their local fire chief. The information about that permit holder is kept on file at County Communications.
That way, the permit holder is able to call County Communications when they are preparing to burn. If conditions are appropriate, the permit holder is told to go ahead and the appropriate agency is informed.
Claflin Fire Chief Doug Hubbard told the commission, that system means that the permit holder isn’t kept from burning, and the affected department doesn’t end up going out on a false alarm, when someone else sees smoke from a rural fire.
The problem in the past, Hubbard explained, was that departments were being sent out on controlled burns that hadn’t been reported.
That puts personnel and equipment in danger and it costs money.
It’s important for permit holders to understand that the county only allows burning that is deemed appropriate by state regulations.
That means, if a permit holder calls to report they are preparing to burn and the weather conditions do not allow for burning — when the wind is too high to be safe, for example — the dispatcher will tell the permit holder they have to wait for conditions to improve.
That doesn’t mean the dispatchers are in the position of administrating burning. They are only explaining what the state regulations are, Hubbard stressed. “Please don’t shoot the messenger,” he urged.
Hubbard said if there is a disagreement about conditions, about what is being burned or anything else involving agricultural burning, that should be settled between the permit holder and their local fire chief.
Ellinwood Fire Chief Chris Komarek and Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano also attended the meeting and agreed that the system is working. “This system has been working well for us for six or seven years,” Komarek commented. “We just want to keep it fine tuned.”