HI Fire Chief: Will start issuing tickets for any illegal burning

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Holiday Island Fire Chief Jack Deaton said Friday he is putting out the word, especially to building contractors, that he will start issuing tickets on illegal burning.

He was not referring to burning when there's a county fire ban on, but to burning illegal substances in burn piles or burn barrels.

He addressed the Holiday Island Planning Commission (HIPC) and started out by congratulating and thanking its members on tightening up their permit requirements in several areas.

"I applaud you all for insisting on a two-hour firewall in duplexes and four-plexes, because what's happening is four-plexes are being built and then sold as townhouses," he said. He added all the local contractors are aware of the more stringent requirement and are complying with it.

The fire code makes a distinction between multiple-unit four-plexes and townhouses. Townhouses are required to have a two-hour firewall, non-penetratable, which consists of two sheetrock walls that overlap, go up to the roof, and come out 4 feet horizontally to keep fire from spreading between units. No ducting or wires can be run through them.

A four-plex only requires a one-hour firewall.

The code was written this way with ownership in mind: individuals own each separate unit in a multi-unit townhouse while four-plexes usually have one owner who rents out units.

Deaton noted the commission can set more stringent requirements than code, but not less, and he acknowledged their foresight in doing so.

The chief then said he's going to start "strictly enforcing" other fire codes, such as burning.

It is illegal in the state of Arkansas to burn anything other than wood products or paper. Also, any burn pile can be no closer than 50 feet to a structure.

He said he recently received several calls from upset property owners about noxious fumes from a burn pile started by another property owner building a large multi-room add-on in Unit 10. When Deaton arrived on scene, he found a burn pile that had been going for two days with many illegal items in it, including a propane cylinder.

"Can you imagine what would have happened if that had gone off?" he said.

The property owner claimed ignorance of the law, he said. Deaton noted this fire regulation is not only part of state code but clearly spelled out in HIPC's "Regulations for Construction and Residential Habitation," which is given to those obtaining a permit.

The situation gives rise to other issues, Deaton added, such as the state allowing a property owner to build a large, multi-occupancy structure without a license or without hiring a licensed contractor.

"A contractor would know these codes," he said.

He also said the commission might want to review the issue of allowing burning at all in Holiday Island, as very few lots have the required 50-foot buffer between a structure and a burn pile.

"This community is growing," he said. "I want to be sure codes are being obeyed and enforced for whoever comes after me."

In other business, HIPC:

  • Approved Permit #2174 for 90 days to Michael Plumley, after extensive discussion with him and his father-in-law, Joe Eastes, on structural tie-ins and roofing, to build a 250-square-foot screened-in porch at 30 LaCosta Drive for property owners Don and Janet Gasparetti.

  • Approved a 60-day extension, to Nov. 7, to Permit #2144 for contractor Ron Youngblood, who is building a 1,490-square-foot house at 88 Twin Peak Drive for property owner Andrew Spetalnick.

  • Agreed to send a letter to a property owner in Unit 1 regarding garbage bags and a parked flatbed trailer.

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