Tarrant County issues burn ban ahead of the Fourth of July weekend

·3 min read
Donna McWilliam/AP

The severe drought conditions facing Tarrant County prompted the Commissioners Court on Tuesday to unanimously approve a burn ban.

The outdoor burning ban comes as Texas continues to experience hot and dry conditions and the county is in severe drought conditions.

The burn ban does not impact fireworks sale or usage, but County Judge Glen Whitley does have the authority to issue a disaster declaration to prohibit the sale or use of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

County Fire Marshal Randy Renois said the judge could call for a ban on fireworks, but it would only last for 60 hours, per Texas law. If the judge wanted to extend the ban past the 60 hour mark, it would require authorization from Gov. Greg Abbott.

Whitley told Renois he would check back with him towards the end of the week about any fireworks-related action, ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Now that the burn ban is issued, what exactly does that mean? Here’s what to know:

What is a outdoor burn ban?

As the name suggests, its a ban on any type of outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county.

An unincorporated area is a place that’s outside of a governmental municipality, meaning not governed by a city authority such as the City of Fort Worth. Therefore, unincorporated areas are under the county’s purview.

This ban only applies to unincorporated areas of a county, since cities have their own ordinances prohibiting burning.

What does a burn ban do?

A burn ban prohibits any type of outdoor burning, such as trash cleanup, tire burning or other such fire applications. A violation of the court order is a class C misdemeanor with a fine up to $500.

Tarrant County shared these tips when cooking outdoors:

  • Gas grills are the safest outdoor cooking option, but please keep the flames covered during its usage.

  • To use a charcoal or wood-burning grill, it must be placed on a concrete, gravel or dirt surface at least five feet from any combustible materials and must be covered while in use.

  • Smokers can be used if they are placed on a concrete, gravel, or dirt surface at least five feet from combustible materials and flames are covered during use.

  • Have a water source, (bucket of water or a garden hose), nearby in case of emergencies.

And for outdoor welding:

  • All areas where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed have to be free of vegetation for at least 25 feet in all directions. Also, the surface around the welding area must be wet down.

  • Wind speeds must be no more than 15 mph 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. One water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is the minimum requirement. Each welding site will have access to a cellphone for emergencies.

  • 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. When using this method, wind speeds must not exceed 30 mph.

  • If an emergency exists where welding has to be performed, the Fire Marshal may issue a temporary exception to the order.

How long does a burn ban last for?

A burn ban last for 90 days from the day it was issued. The 90 days would end in late September, unless the Commissioners Court decides to rescind the ban.

Does a burn ban limit the sale of fireworks?

No, the outdoor burn ban does not have an affect on the sale or use of fireworks in unincorporated areas. Fireworks use and sale are under a separate Texas governmental code not related to the ban on outdoor burning.

[RELATED: Can you light up fireworks under a burn ban in North Texas? It depends on where you are]

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