Opinion

Think before you burn

The dry weather and sunshine is great for enjoying outdoor activities, but it’s also a dangerous time for fires.

Although the burn ban has not been reinstated, the dangers of outdoor burning are still prevalent. It doesn’t take long for a fire to grow out of control and the consequences can be extreme. Along with the summer months come recreational fires whether it’s while out camping our simply gathering friends together for a bon fire. Many residents, however, may not be familiar with what is considered a legal recreational fire. A common question received by Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, according to spokeswoman Theresa MacLennan, is, “What is a recreational fire and does it require a burn ban?”

The answer, “A recreational fire is the burning of seasoned firewood or charcoal briquettes in an outdoor fireplace, barbecue grill or barbecue pit and with a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking or similar purposes. A recreational fire does not involve the burning of rubbish or even one branch of natural vegetation. If you are having regular campfires for the purpose of getting rid of branches and yard debris, that is not considered a recreational fire and is a violation of Washington state law. A recreational fire does not require a fire department-issued burn permit,” according to MacLennan.

Recreational fires are allowed within the Central Kitsap “No Burn Zone” with a few exceptions including when an air quality burn ban has been implemented by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency or when a Phase II burn ban goes into effect.

Although recreational fires do not require a permit, common sense is an important requirement. The best way to keep up on the burn ban status is to check out CKFR’s Web site at www.ckfr.org or call the CKFR burning information line at (360) 447-3555.

The following general provisions also should be followed:

Location The location of a recreational fire should be at least 25 feet from any structure or other combustible materials.

Environmental factors Weather and water availability could adversely affect the ability to have a recreational fire. Drought, high winds, water shortages and dry brush or other conditions could preclude the allowance of fires.

Ability to extinguish the fire A shovel, a fully charged garden hose, or a 5-gallon bucket of water must be present at the fire site.

Supervision At least one responsible adult must be at the fire site and be capable of extinguishing the flames rapidly if dangerous fire conditions arise. An adult shall remain at the fire site from the beginning of the fire until the fire is completely extinguished.

Smoke emissions In the event 911 receives a complaint about smoke emissions from any recreational fire, the fire may need to be extinguished. Keep smoke emissions to a minimum.

Burn ban Puget Sound Clean Air Agency occasionally issues an air quality burn ban. In the event of an air quality burn ban, fires of all types are prohibited. It is the responsibility of the permittee to ensure no such ban exists prior to starting a fire.

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