Thursday, October 19, 2017
The sign at the Shawnee National Forest Hidden Springs District headquarters in Vienna advises visitors of the fire danger within the forest bounderies. The indicator on the sign had been set to high (above) for nearly a week due to lake of rain in Southernmost Illinois. Monday morning it was advanced to ‘extreme’ level (below). The public should be aware that the moisture content within the forest is always greater than that in open areas due to the trees, undergrowth and leaves covering the ground. Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner strongly advises, “Everyone should use extreme caution with open flames outdoors. A small spark, firecracker, sparkler or lit cigarette can easily ignite a dangerous fire very quickly during these dry conditions,” He said. Faulkner advised that there be no open burning anywhere in the county until the county receives at least two inches of rain.

Controlled burns must be reported prior to starting

The sign at the Shawnee National Forest Hidden Springs District headquarters in Vienna advises visitors of the fire danger within the forest bounderies. The indicator on the sign had been set to high (above) for nearly a week due to lake of rain in Southernmost Illinois. Monday morning it was advanced to ‘extreme’ level (below).
The public should be aware that the moisture content within the forest is always greater than that in open areas due to the trees, undergrowth and leaves covering the ground.
Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner strongly advises, “Everyone should use extreme caution with open flames outdoors. A small spark, firecracker, sparkler or lit cigarette can easily ignite a dangerous fire very quickly during these dry conditions,” He said.
Faulkner advised that there be no open burning anywhere in the county until the county receives at least two inches of rain.

Submitted by Johnson County 9-11 Coordinator Jim Cuff

Recently in Johnson County there have been several discussions about the issuance of burning permits and a burning ban. Both of these subjects have merit and could be beneficial in certain situations.

There are many variables in the individual situations that affect the outcome of both.

At the May 7, 2012 meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners there was a discussion about a county ordinance on burning.

During this discussion several other options to an ordinance were discussed.  The county board did not take any action on the issue.  The commissioners felt that a county ordinance was not the answer.

Vienna fire chief (retired) Floyd Koehler and Buncombe fire chief Sue Davis as well as other fire chiefs in the county have been dealing with the burning problem for quite some time.

The main problem, that needs to be addressed, is the unnecessary dispatching of the fire units to a reported fire, that ends up being a controlled burn.

Because 9-1-1 dispatchers cannot accurately identify if the reported fire is a true emergency or a controlled burn, fire units are sent. These responses to controlled burns utilize equipment and manpower that could be saved for true emergencies.

In speaking with area fire chiefs, emergency responders and dispatchers the fix to the above problems would be for anyone doing a control burn to notify the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department  prior to starting the burn.

This would ensure that emergency equipment and personnel are not needlessly sent.

The information the sheriff’s department will need is:

• Address of the controlled burn

• Name of the person doing the burn

• Telephone number of the person supervising the burn

Sheriff’s dispatchers will log the above information and will only send a fire department when requested by the person supervising the burn.

The sheriff’s department can be contacted at 618-658-8264.

Calling the sheriff’s department does not negate the responsibility to also obtain a burn permit from the U.S. Forest Service during the months of February, March, April, October and November.

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