• 59°

Uncontrolled fires can spark tragedy

Ohio Gov.

Thursday, October 14, 1999

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft is considering a proposal that would ban open burning statewide this season. The decision was sparked in part by the lack of rain this summer and worries that innocent garbage or brush burning fires could turn into raging forest fires.

In life, sometimes limitations that are made to regulate those who abuse a privilege end up curtailing the rights of those who follow the rules.

Putting stricter guidelines on everyone allows fewer people to make mistakes that end up costing taxpayers money or hurting innocent bystanders.

And that is why a statewide ban on open burning is something that should be enacted as quickly as possible, and local firefighters should be deputized to issue citations to those who break the rules.

A garbage or brush fire that is not monitored can quickly get out of control and take over a hillside or a dense forest area.

Firefighters then have to not only risk their lives fighting the blaze, they also will be away from the station. If there were a life-threatening emergency across the township, they would have to choose how to divide personnel and could not give their full attention to either blaze. That is how tragedies happen.

Lawrence County has mostly volunteer fire departments, so these volunteers invest an enormous number of hours in fighting a fire that was the result of someone else’s carelessness.

A burning ban might seem to be overkill to some. After all, what about those who follow the rules?

But in this case, an ounce of prevention could mean a home or lives saved.

Ohio needs an open burning ban or a list of explicit restrictions that regulate when a fire permissible. Add some enforcement authority for firefighters and the state might avoid a tragedy.