Beaufort, Port Royal hold ‘Burn Week’

“Burn Week” in Beaufort and Port Royal is March 4-10, meaning residents with the appropriate permits can burn their accumulated winter yard debris if they do it with safety in mind.
Each year, firefighters in South Carolina battle more than 3,000 wildfires that burn 20,000 acres. In Beaufort and Port Royal last year, local firefighters answered 19 calls for brush fires, hundreds of illegal burns and reports of smoke problems — and the 19 brush fires required 708 firefighter hours to extinguish.
Both locally and statewide, 98 percent of those wildfires were caused by careless people not paying attention, tossing lit cigarettes into dry tinder or otherwise making poor decisions.
What’s that all add up to? In Beaufort and Port Royal, there are four “burn weeks” established each year. The March 4-10 period is the first for 2012. Permits are required for these weeks of outdoor burning and typically need a visit from the fire department to approve the location and safety measures in place.
“Environmental conditions on the day of burning are very important factors to ensure fires can be controlled,” Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said. “In Beaufort and Port Royal, we have many homes and businesses that are located beside each other, and a fire can quickly spread. That’s one reason we are so careful about the burning and the special permits.”
Included on the burn permit application are specific instructions on checking each burning day to ensure burning is allowed.  The State Forestry Commission provides a daily “Fire Weather” forecast for each region in the state.
These forecasts are really “fire spread risk assessments” based on information such as humidity, wind speed and ground moisture levels.  The risk assessment is published daily from “low” to “extreme.”
Beaufort and Port Royal officials use this information, along with additional local conditions, to determine if burning is authorized each day.  All of this is done to provide citizens the safest environment possible to burn yard debris.
Outside of the Beaufort and Port Royal limits, all unincorporated areas of Beaufort County fall under the September 2011 county burn ordinance. It can be viewed at www.bc.gov.net. Self-governed homeowners associations, private communities, and gated communities may have covenants or other community rules that further restrict burning.
Confused? Call your local fire department if you have any questions concerning burning yard debris.   If you have a question or would like to discuss other fire prevention opportunities for your home or business, contact the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department at 843-525-7055 or city-fire@cityofbeaufort.org.


Department well prepared to cover fires despite loss of fire truck in tragic event

In light of last Friday’s theft of a Beaufort-Port Royal fire truck and subsequent death of a pedestrian and numerous wrecks, media have inquired about damage to the fire truck and the Fire Department’s ability to respond to fires without that vehicle.
1. The damaged fire truck’s replacement value is $663,000.
2. In the Beaufort Fire Department’s conversations with the manufacturer, the damaged fire truck may be declared a total loss. The Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department will continue to work with the insurance company on this matter. The Fire Department will consider replacing this damaged vehicle as part of the overall fleet reorganization plan.
3. “Despite the loss of that fire engine, the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department has enough fire trucks and support vehicles to continue to provide exceptional fire protection services to all our areas. Our recent Joint ISO rating review included an analysis of our equipment. We are confident we are fully capable of responding to all emergencies despite the loss of one fire truck,” said Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron.
“Our firefighters are highly trained. Our equipment is kept in top condition. Friday’s tragedy remains under investigation and we’ll be commenting further when appropriate,” Negron said.

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