How's Your Fire Safety IQ?
- Published on 2019-05-10 16:55:11
We are blessed to live in this amazing place, Manson, Washington, beautiful and peaceful. We are free from most disasters that plague other areas of our country and the world. Our biggest challenge is fire, naturally caused and human caused, both can be devastating! Forecasters are predicting a higher than normal chances for fires in 2019.
The best way to fight fire is not to let it get started. Do your part to be fire safe.
I recently met with Arnold Baker, Manson’s Fire Chief with 33 years’ service to our community. I was immediately impressed with his passion for fire safety and his devotion to our community. Chelan County Fire Station #5 operates with Chief Baker, Administrative Assistant Patty McClellan and 25 volunteer firefighters and has been in operation since 1949, 70 years of operations.
Their service area is approximately 19 square miles and serves a population of approximately 3,900 people. The primary services provided includes:
- Suppression of fires in buildings, vehicles, natural vegetation, and other property
- Emergency medical response at the basic life support level in cooperation with Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s advanced life support EMS
- Basic life support emergency medical transportation
- Technical rescue and extrication
- Hazardous materials emergency response
Today’s conversation focused on fire safety, rules and regulations. The number one questioned asked by people contacting Fire Station #5 is, “Can I burn today”. The answer is…it depends. First you need to find out if there is a burn ban in effect. “As a rule, the burn ban goes in place May 31 and ends October 1. But if we’ve had a dry fall, we might extend the October 1 date”, stated Chief Baker. “Burning is only allowed outside the Manson Urban Growth Area (UGA). Burning is never allowed inside the UGA. Check your location on the Chelan County's Interactive Map.” Be sure to let the Fire Station know if you plan to burn 509-687-3222.
Manson's Fire Chief Arnold Baker in action
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets burning restrictions based on air quality. Contact them at 800-406-5322 before burning; select option 1 for the Central Region, then option 2 for the Chelan County Daily Burn Decision. They update their message every morning at 9:00 AM. Fines for burning at restricted times and burning anything other than natural vegetation can cost up to $10,000 per day!
I asked the Fire Chief what can we burn? “Only natural vegetation, no processed wood including 2x4’s. We strongly suggest not to burn piles of leaves, they can smolder for weeks and possibly restart when no one is around. When igniting the fire use paper, cardboard and small sticks, diesel is not allowed. You can use a propane torch. The property owner is not only liable for fines from burning at restricted times, they are also liable for damage their fire inflicts on neighbors and our community.”
Steps to take when you plan to burn:
- Be sure you are outside the Manson Urban Growth Area
- Check to see if the Chelan County Burn Ban is not in effect.
- Call the EPA hotline for burning restrictions -800-406-5322 recording prompts #1 and #2
- Call Fire Station #5 and let them know you plan to burn
- Use your common sense and watch weather conditions
- Burn pile maximum size 4x4x3 feet
- One person stationed at burn pile
- Fire must be extinguished by dusk
What about fireworks in Chelan County? “They are banned the entire year and for good reason. Many needless fires start from the illegal use of fireworks and remember you are liable for any damage they cause,” Chief Baker went on.
How about recreational burning Chief? “Residents may have campfires so long as the fire is in an approved pit or area. Portable fireplaces are allowed so long as they’re on noncombustible surfaces and burn only natural wood products. Be aware, burning of debris in a barrel is illegal. If you have questions regarding burning of any kind contact my office at 509-687-3222.”
The next topic was fire safety in your home and property. “A big part of my job is to educate our community about fire safety and how people can “harden” their property from the danger of fire. We offer a free inspection of your property that will highlight areas of possible fire danger and make suggestions on reducing your fire risk. Your home’s landscaping could place your home at higher risk from a wildfire. Some of the most commonly used landscape plants that are widely used in this area burn with greater intensity. Junipers and Arborvitae, contain volatile waxes and oils that cause the plant to burn intensely, even when well-watered. Landscaping suggestions are included in our free inspection,” Chief Baker said.
To learn more check out the following websites:
By Norm Manly