Jasper County Board of Supervisors on March 14 set public hearing dates to establish a controlled burn ordinance, which, if approved, would require residents to notify dispatch before conducting a controlled burn. The ordinance does not require residents get permission from dispatch, just that they give a heads up.
The public hearings will be held 9:30 a.m. March 28, April 4 and April 11 in the board of supervisors chambers.
During the March 7 supervisors meeting, assistant county attorney Nicholas Pietrack requested the board create the ordinance after some local fire departments last summer inadvertently responded to a controlled burn, got trapped in an area and could not respond quickly enough to another call.
Jasper County Supervisors Brandon Talsma was under the impression residents were already required to call dispatch before they conduct a controlled burn. But this was not the case, despite several people already doing so. Sheriff John Halferty was in support of the ordinance so long as it is enforced.
While Halferty appreciates those people who already contact dispatch, he confirmed it has been an issue for his department when people don’t call.
“I would be concerned about consistency of the fire chiefs, and we can work with them on making sure that we’re consistent,” Halferty said. “What I mean by that is: I think the resolution allows a little bit of leeway that if they get on scene they can determine if it was an accident or something.”
It does not require that citizens have to be cited, but it gives fire departments the opportunity to at least counsel, warn them and then cite.
Citizens should also have adequate people to control the fire or at the very least watch it. Halferty is overall in support of the ordinance but stressed the public needs to be educated and that there needs to be consistency to enforce the code if it needs to be enforced.