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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office


Des Moines, IOWA --- The State Fire Marshal reminds Iowans two-thirds of the state remains under a burn ban.  With this in mind, State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds is offering more information on the most common questions submitted to his office on camp fires, community fireworks shows, and issuing citations for violations of a burn ban.

Law enforcement and fire officials have issued citations throughout Iowa for violations of Iowa code 100.40.  Violating a state issued burn ban is a simple misdemeanor requiring an appearance in court.  Reynolds states, “We have received several calls from fire and police agencies asking about issuing citations to violators of the burn ban.  It’s my goal to warn Iowans this is not the time to burn in Iowa, so they aren’t faced with a citation.  But we haven’t seen such lengthy burn bans or such dry conditions for some time, so I anticipate more citations in the coming weeks.” 

Common sense advice during burn bans:
1) In many places, camp fires are permitted if supervised and contained in an enclosed area with brick, metal, or grate lining to prevent fires from escaping the confines of the fire pit.  Again, direct supervision is the key!  Even if you think the fire is extinguished when done, add water or sand to be sure. Be sure to check with your local fire department as some cities or counties may not permit open recreational fires during a burn ban.
2) Community fireworks are permitted with added safety precautions.  Things like wetting a hillside or establishing a fire watch with extinguishers are good preventative steps.  However, cities and fireworks blasters hold 100% of the liability for fires.
3) The fact a person wants to burn brush and has years of experience burning brush doesn’t necessitate open burning.  Very few controlled fires are necessary or required.  If a permit has been issued by the local fire chief, all fire prevention precautions should be implemented to prevent a controlled fire from becoming uncontrolled. 

“We are asking for people to use a little common sense when striking the match,” says State Fire Inspector Dan Wood. “The adage, ‘Only you can prevent forest fires.’ holds true especially with these dangerously dry conditions.” 

The number of vegetation fires in the first six months of 2012 has exceeded all of the grass fires for 2010 and has nearly reached the 2011 year end total.  You can learn more about vegetative fires from Iowa’s fire reporting data.

If citizens have questions on the issuance of a burn ban in a region of the state, they can visit the State Fire Marshal Website to identify the local authority requesting the burn ban in that area. 


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