From the Parker County Judge's Office
Parker County Commissioners voted unanimously to place all unincorporated areas of the county under a burn ban, following a recommendation from Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott due to drought conditions, at the court’s regular meeting on Monday, August 09, 2010.
Scott said the county’s drought index, determined by the Texas Forest Service, has risen to the 500-600 level on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index scale and is projected to move into the 600-700 range within the next 14 days.
Another factor involved in the placement of the burn ban is the City of Weatherford’s recent water distribution problems, according to Scott.
“One of the deciding factors was Weatherford’s reduced capacity for water production,” he said. “In addition we have had a large amount of vegetation growth and that vegetation is starting to dry out rapidly, creating a very combustible situation throughout the county.”
Volunteer Fire Departments, Emergency Service Districts and Municipal Fire Departments within Parker County have seen an uptick in the number of grass fires over the past couple of weeks, according to Scott.
Violation of the burn ban is a Class C Misdemeanor and could result in a fine of up to $500 plus court costs. Violations include the use of combustible materials, including outdoor welding. However, where welding must be performed in the field, the following mitigating efforts will be in force until the burn ban has expired, which is set for Sept. 9, 2010:
All areas where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed will be free of vegetation for at least twenty five feet in all directions;
Surface around welding area will be wetted down;
Wind speeds must be no more than 20 miles per hour while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures;
A dedicated fire watch person will attend each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark;
A minimum of one (1) water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is required;
Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response;
All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box”, that is sufficiently high to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top. Winds speeds must not exceed 30 miles per hour while utilizing an enclosure;
i. Where welding (above ground and sub-surface) is required in an area where there is a potential for a hazardous atmosphere, barriers will be substituted for total enclosures (e.g. “wind walls”) to prevent sparks from coming in contact with any combustible material;
ii. The barriers will be installed to allow ventilation of the work area and ingress and egress to the work area for personnel safety;
iii. Sub-surface, or “bell hole”, welding and grinding operations within approved excavations are allowed if all other mitigation efforts are included;
If an emergency exists where welding has to be performed, the Fire Marshal may issue a temporary exception to the order.