Jasper County residents who will be holding controlled burns are now required to contact dispatch ahead of time and supervise the fire. The Jasper County Board of Supervisors adopted the new ordinance during its weekly meeting on March 28 at the courthouse.
Nicholas Pietrack, assistant county attorney, said the new ordinance requires residents to provide relevant information about the burn to the dispatch non-emergency line, such as the location of the burn, the anticipated acreage or size of the burn and contact information.
The information will then be relayed to first responders in Jasper County communities in case they get calls of a fire and not respond to the controlled burn. Pietrack said the ordinance will allow first responders to not waste resources on a call that is not an emergency.
“For first responders, the two most valuable resources are time and knowledge. Time of responding to something and knowledge of location and things like that,” Pietrack said to the board of supervisors. “(The ordinance is) just giving first responders more of those resources.”
Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said the ordinance will help the first responders who are already limited on staff. Halferty also commended the ordinance for making the landowners responsible for monitoring the controlled burn. There are also enforcement measures for repeat offenders.
“It gives us the opportunity to give them some consequences,” Halferty said.
As someone who has served for the fire department in Kellogg for 45 years, supervisor Denny Stevenson said he is all for this new ordinance. It should be no problem for a resident to pick up a phone and call dispatch. There is no reason not to, he said, and it should encourage people to make it a habit.
Supervisor Doug Cupples said it is a “no-brainer” to have an ordinance like this in the county code. Supervisor Brandon Talsma said a few fire chiefs reached out to him about the ordinance to voice their support. None of the supervisors or staff indicated residents showed opposition to the proposal.
As a result, the board of supervisors waived the remaining readings and passed the ordinance. The controlled burn ordinance would be effective July 1.
The ordinance, which was proposed earlier this month, does not require residents to ask for permission to burn, but rather notify when a burn occurs.
“Just a ‘Hey, I’m going to do this on this day’ and kind of the rough plan,” Pietrack said at a past meeting. “…Other counties have permits that are required for any type of burn. It’s not this. It’s just strictly notification. If somebody does not notify dispatch and a fire department responds, there are some civil penalties.”