Burn Bans: Everything You Need to Know
Burn Bans: Everything You Need to Know
You've just had a long day, and all you want to do is relax. One of your favorite ways to relax is to start a fire in your backyard fire pit and enjoy the peace and quiet. But then your neighbor knocks on your door and tells you that there's a burn ban in effect for your county. What does this mean exactly? How do I know if my county has issued one? And what about those "exceptions" I keep hearing about?
What is a burn ban?
A burn ban is a restriction on open fires, like campfires and backyard fires. A burn ban is issued by the fire marshal of each county. When a burn ban is in place, it prohibits all open burning and other activities that could start wildfires.
Burn bans are typically issued during the summer to help prevent wildfires from starting due to dry conditions, high winds, and low humidity levels. During a burn ban you should not:
- Start a fire of any kind (even in approved containers).
- Have bonfires or campfires outside of designated areas (such as recreational areas).
Why do we have burn bans?
A burn ban helps prevent wildfires by reducing the risk of injury from sparks or embers being blown by the wind onto dry vegetation that may accidentally start a fire. In addition to wildfire prevention, a burn ban also reduces smoke in your neighborhood (although this may be inconvenient for you). It also helps minimize the chance that a fire will spread to other properties and threaten life or property in those areas.
When are burn bans issued?
When it comes to burn bans, the conditions that may lead to a ban are not always predictable. In general, if there is a high risk of wildfire and the weather is hot and dry, a burn ban will likely be issued. The best way to know when a burn ban is in effect is simply by looking at your local news station or checking their website.
However, since this information can change quickly depending on how fast conditions change (like how quickly it gets windy), you should always check with your local fire department before starting any fires outdoors.
Who issues burn bans?
A burn ban is a restriction on outdoor burning, and the authority to issue one is typically at the discretion of a state fire marshal or local fire chief. This person may also be able to issue a temporary ban if they see smoke or smell smoke in their area as well. If you hear about a burn ban in your area, it's best to check with your county sheriff and/or emergency management coordinator to see if this applies to you.
How do I find out if there's a burn ban in my county?
Start by checking the local news. Typically this will be your newspaper or other print media. If you live in an area with a lot of wildfires, you might have a regular burn ban updates section in the paper that tells people when they can and cannot use their grills and fire pits. You can also check with your county sheriff's office. Many counties have websites that list current burn bans as well as any new ones that are put into effect. You can also call them directly if you don't want to go online right now (or if we've already told you that their website is down).
What does a countywide burn ban prohibit?
- No open burning, including campfires and charcoal grills.
- You can’t smoke outside of your home or vehicle.
- You can't light fireworks or sparklers during a burn ban, even if they're legal where you live (and they may be).
- You also shouldn't use anything that creates an open flame, like fire pits, tiki torches, or fireworks during a burn ban (even though it's perfectly legal to use them under normal circumstances).
- No welding or cutting metal outdoors
Does a countywide burn ban affect me if I live within the city limits of an incorporated town or city?
If you live within the city limits of an incorporated town or city, you must follow the burn ban issued by that city or town. If you live in a rural area, you must follow the burn ban issued by your county.
A burn ban is a serious thing, and you should take it seriously. If there is a countywide burn ban in effect, it means that there are restrictions on how you can use your fireplace or wood-burning stove. The outdoors can be quite lovely during the winter months, so staying indoors to keep warm doesn't always seem like such a bad idea. But if you want to stay warm without breaking the law and potentially putting yourself or others at risk of injury or death (especially when children are involved), then make sure you know all about burn bans before trying anything else!
If your Haines City home suffers from a fire getting out of control, particularly during a burn ban, give SERVPRO of Haines City/Polk City a call. We will be there to help you restore!