There has been significant increase in the number of complaints received by both departments related to open burning and, particularly, an increased number of complaints related to trash burning. (Please note that we recognize that some municipalities prohibit burning of any kind and will note that in the release.)
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic poses threats to individuals with a history of heart or respiratory illness. Open burning adds to that burden. Smoke can increase an individual’s susceptibility to the virus and can also decrease a COVID-19 infected individual’s ability to fight the virus and worsen their symptoms. It can also result in non-COVID infected individuals having to seek medical attention during this crisis because of respiratory illness.
And just like in other frontline careers, fire departments are adjusting operations to protect their members while still serving our communities. This includes steps to limit training activities, enforcing physical distancing when possible, closing fire stations to the public, and conducting evaluations of members for symptoms. The voluntary ban on burning can assist with those measures.
Particularly during dry and windy conditions, open burning can lead to brush and other types of fires. Firefighters responding to those emergencies are working close to each other, are using personal protective equipment (PPE) that could be reserved for other emergencies and could be responding to other emergencies rather than one that could have be prevented if residents refrain from burning activities.