Burn resolution put on ice

By Phyllis Zorn
Marion County Record – March 15, 2017


This will not be the year a new burn resolution will take effect in the county.


Although fire chiefs from Peabody, Lincolnville, Hillsboro, Marion, Lehigh, and Burns spoke to county commissioners Feb. 20 about replacing a burn regulation passed in 2014 with a new one, the terms of the proposed resolution have since been questioned, discussed, and had changes proposed.


A dozen firefighters and landowners crowded into the county commission chambers for discussion at Monday’s meeting. Matthew Voth, assistant chief of Goessel Fire Department, recommended several changes to the wording of the resolution written by county counselor Susan Robson.


Voth said he wanted to add a provision that properly controlled burns are encouraged.


He also suggested changing the required notice time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes prior to setting a fire.


Not everyone is prepared to control a burn properly, Voth said.


“We have one elderly gentleman in our district that, when he calls in a controlled burn, you might as well get to the fire station and race,” Voth said.


Voth also asked commissioners to hold public meetings to educate county residents on resolution changes for fires.


Firefighters will provide education and make cards listing the website address for the Grassland Fire Danger Index, Voth said.


Steve Schmidt, who lives in McPherson County but has land in Marion County, said he believes several items in the proposed burn resolution should be changed, and that a meeting should be held to hear suggestions from the public.


Commissioners decided to take no action until they get input from public meetings. For this year’s burning season, the 2014 resolution will still be in effect. That resolution allows burning under the following circumstances:


  • Prevailing wind speed is less than 20 m.p.h.;
  • the burn is supervised from the time the fire is started until it is extinguished and reasonable means are available to control or contain the fire;
  • if conditions exist that may result in smoke blowing toward a public roadway, adequate notification to the highway patrol, sheriff’s office, or other appropriate state or local traffic control authorities is made before burning;
  • if smoke may affect visibility at an airport, adequate notification is given to the airport authorities before burning;
  • local authorities have not imposed a burning ban;
  • all people residing within one-half mile of the property are notified within five days before burning; and
  • the sheriff’s office is notified of the intent to burn, the location to be burned, and the estimated time of the proposed burn.