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Chief seeks guidance on burn permits

Brookhaven Fire Department Chief Tony Weeks talked fire withcity officials at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting.

Their discussions could lead to changes in the city’s burnordinance and did result in a new fee schedule for obtaining a burnpermit. Several complaints about unattended fires, the possibledangers of burning and the newly annexed area of the city havefueled reasons for city officials and Weeks to re-evaluate thecity’s current burn ordinance.

“I just (want) to have a leg to stand on,” said Weeks. “To knowunder what circumstances I can give out a permit.”

The current ordinance contains certain stipulations about how big aburn pile can be or how far away from a structure the fire shouldbe. However, each fire’s substances and current weather conditionsall factor into what is or is not the proper situation for a safeburn.

“I try to treat everybody the same, but sometimes you can’t dothat,” Weeks said in discussing trying to stick to one set ofrules.

Board members discussed possible solutions to resolving the issuesof the current ordinance, but it would seem the board is leaning toallow Weeks more discretion in handing out burning permits.

“My biggest guideline would be to document (each occasion) andadvise accordingly,” said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell.”Everything can’t be a perfect situation.”

While no official changes to the ordinance have occurred, the boarddid change the allocation of permit fees and BFD donations and theprice of acquiring a burning permit. Changes in the ordinance willmodify the current price of $20 for a burn permit to a minimum of$20.

Also, it was pointed out that permit fees and donations to the BFDwere going into the city’s general fund. However, after Tuesday’smeeting, Weeks will see a few more dollars after the board approvedplacing the money received from burning permits and donations tothe fire department into the BFD’s budget.

“It can kind of alleviate equipment expenses,” said Weeks.

In addition to more money, the BFD will soon be getting moretraining.

Weeks received two bids for the construction of the mobile firetrainer. The trainer will be 50 feet long and parked behind thedepartment’s central station, allowing safer conditions forfirefighters to prepare.

The board accepted the lower bid by Kidde Fire Trainers, Inc., of$309,038. Kidde’s bid was roughly $20,000 lower than a bidsubmitted by Fire Blast 451.

“Kidde had a few things I liked better,” said Weeks. “They’ve beenin the business for 31 years.”

The accepted bid will leave Weeks about $26,000 worth of wiggleroom in the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, which he was awardedby FEMA in August.

With the remaining money, Weeks hopes to purchase additionaloptions for the fire trainer and possibly a sound system, whichwould be able to mimic cries for help.

“I feel great about it,” said Weeks. “It’s going to keep everyonesharp.”

Weeks expects the company to begin construction on the mobile unitin January and he hopes to have firefighters training in thefacility by May or June.