Common Sense Not So Common About Fire Safety


Recently Christopher-Kohl's Fire Department received a call from the USDA Forest Service of a smoke sighting in the See Canyon area in Christopher Creek. As per mutual agreement with the forest service, CKFD investigates smoke sightings reported by the Diamond Point or Colcord towers in or adjacent to the fire district. CKFD has a few minutes' response time in comparison with the half hour or more travel time by the Forest Service.

Upon investigation, the chief found an outside slash burn on private property adjacent to forest land, but as he had no jurisdiction (no fire code), he reported his findings to the Forest Service crew already dispatched and left the area. The Forest Service later reported that the people that were burning had a valid EPA burn permit, but had failed to follow the regulation that states that the local fire department and the Forest Service must be notified before the burn.

Therefore, these people not only wasted an hour or more of our chief's time responding and doing required paperwork after any incidents; but also cost taxpayers at least an hour of forest service personnel's time. What I resent is my taxpayer dollars being spent for such blatant disregard of the law with no avenue of control. This was only one example of the many times this occurs during a year.

As a fire department member for 14 years, I responded to fires caused by improper outside burning, improper disposal of combustible materials such as oily rags and paint, improper installation and maintenance of chimneys and disposal of ash, abandoned campfires, inadequate electric wire installation and appliance use, and improper installation and use of gas appliances, furnaces and propane tanks. Most of these were caused by lack of common sense. Would a fire code have prevented most of these? Probably not.

And if Mother Nature decides to clean her forest, most likely a fire code won't help either. But here are some facts to consider about fire codes.

The local fire department can control potentially hazardous situations much more rapidly than a call to the sheriff, county or state.

The fire department would have a small amount of input in new real estate construction and development as to water resources for fire protection, road access and planning for adequate personnel and money for equipment to meet those needs.

Provide a small measure of protection for your friends, neighbors and family members who volunteer with the local fire department by making sure they have adequate personnel, equipment and training to meet community expansion.

The steps for enforcement of a fire code are: 1. Evaluation, education, recommendation; 2. citation/fine; 3. further legal action. All steps must be well documented.

I hope that the people of Young will use all their common sense and examine all the facts before making a decision about fire codes.

Voters in the Christopher-Kohl's Fire District have already voted down a fire code referendum. So we must rely on a "little" common sense for protection. So little as the disregard for properly using a burn permit.

How common is common sense?
Pam Milhon
Christopher Creek

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