UPDATE: Burn Ban Extended, Fireworks Allowed

Kosciusko County Commissioners today have again extended the burn ban but they have backed off of the restriction on personal fireworks.

In an email, Kosciusko Emergency Management Director Ed Rock says, “Due to the confusing nature of the fireworks laws in the state of Indiana, and to be consistent with our ongoing position which states, ‘We believe that the people of Kosciusko County are capable of making sound decisions and being responsible for their own actions based on the current situation,’ Kosciusko County’s burn ban is being revised and extended through July 3.”

Rock adds, “With this in mind, we are not banning the use of personal fireworks, however, we strongly encourage residents to refrain from using any type of personal fireworks. Remember that individuals may be held personally responsible for any damages resulting from use of fireworks.”

In addition, Rock has provided all fire departments with an Indiana law that allows volunteer fire departments to charge for every run caused by anyone who violates the burn ban or who sets a fire by using personal fireworks.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office says under IC 36-8-12-13, volunteer fire departments are allowed to establish a schedule of charges for the services that the department provides. In accordance with this law, State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson publishes the following recommended schedule of service charges for fire protection services:

(1) For initial response with a fire engine, a fire truck, or a fire apparatus, including a hazardous material response unit, or a fire rescue unit dispatched on a fire or hazardous material
incident, two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per response vehicle except command/control vehicle, which is one hundred dollars ($100.00) per vehicle.

(2) For each hour or fraction thereof as on-scene assistance, one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per response unit and fifty dollars ($50.00) per command/control vehicle.

(3) For expendable materials such as absorption materials, emulsifiers, or other agents used in cleanup operations, the actual replacement cost of those materials.

(4) For collection of debris, chemicals, fuel, or contaminated materials resulting from a spill, the actual cost of removal and disposal at an authorized location.

Rock encourages all county volunteer fire departments to enact those fees for any violations of the burn ban or fires caused by fireworks.

Further, as stated in Indiana Code, “A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally uses consumer ­fireworks and damages someone else’s property commits a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to 1 year and a maximum fi­ne of $10,000.”

Violating the local burn ban is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.

At least the town of Mentone, however, is sticking by the fireworks ban. Town council president Tim Croy tells StaceyPageOnline.com, “We still have our fire ban in place – no open burning or fireworks. I have declared an emergency due to extremely dry conditions.”

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer is clinging to the hopes that people will use common sense and choose not to celebrate with fireworks. Thallemer tonight issued this statement:

“The Kosciusko County Commissioners have issued a county-wide Disaster Emergency Proclamation to enact a burn ban from June 29 through July 3 which includes the city of Warsaw. I have spoken with our Fire Chief Michael Brubaker and we are both in full support of the ban on any open burning.  While the use of personal fireworks is not banned, Chief Brubaker and I would ask the public to observe a voluntary ban on any and all personal fireworks as the result of the very high danger of fire.

“We are concerned that in the celebration of Independence Day over the next 10 days, our fire department could become dangerously overburdened. Random property damage could result and personal safety could be compromised if our public safety services are stretched. Chief Brubaker and I ask you to voluntarily refrain from the use of any personal fireworks during this period of the disaster emergency proclamation. Chief Brubaker also reminds us that those responsible for property damage or personal injury could be held accountable for the cost of emergency services and insurance company liability. Please help us keep this great celebration safe and happy.”

Elsewhere, sheriff Rocky Goshert stated that his department will respond to burning complaints as they are called into the city/county dispatch center. KCSD officers will investigate burning ban complaints and violations and use officer discretion, as they do on all calls for service, as to the final disposition.  Sheriff Goshert also repeats his original request of county citizens to use common sense during this time of extreme heat and dry weather.

Warsaw Police Department Lt. Kip Shuter says WPD officers will also respond to complaints and issue citations as officers deem necessary.

Winona Lake Police Chief Paul Schmitt issued a statement saying fireworks could potentially cause fires and, “Due to the extreme drought conditions, we suggest no use of these items until the dry conditions improve and encourage private individuals to wait until the burn ban is lifted by the county commissioners.”

Schmitt says his officers will also respond to complaints of the use of fireworks and assess whether their use should be terminated. Any violations of the state statues that pertain to the use of fireworks will be dealt with according to those laws. “Again, we strongly urge everyone to use common sense in their decisions on this matter and invite all to enjoy the display that will occur June 30 at dusk over Winona Lake.”

Download the pdf of the burn ban: Burn Ban Signed 6-29-12



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