How can we do our part to prevent the destruction from affecting our lives? The state of Alabama imposes a "No Burn Ban" from May 1st to October 31st. This covers 12 counties, including Morgan County (in case you forgot, Priceville is in Morgan County). Actually, there are two agencies who enforce this ban. The first one, Alabama Department of Environmental Managament (ADEM for short), imposes the ban because they are trying to limit the air pollution coming from the fire. The second agency is the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC). They have the same mission as Smokey the Bear since it is typically dry conditions during that time of year.
After May 1st, you are subject to $1000 in fines and possible jail time.
Here is what typically happens during the burn ban season:
--We get a call of a brush fire. It might not be from the person burning the pile, it might be from the angry neighbor who has the smoke blowing into their yard.
--We will respond to put out the fire. Usually, when we arrive, the owner will say they were watching the fire. They just went inside "for a minute" and must have gotten out of control then.
--Then we will put out the fire. If we are called to any fire, we are required to put it out (the state says it will not issue permits during this timeframe for personal burns).
Now, let's learn from this. Let's assume you legally burn your piles before the burn ban goes into effect:
--Set up your pile away from your house, the woods, your pastures, your farm animals, your kids, or any other combustibles. Don't forget embers from the fire can fly into other areas.
--Keep an eye on the weather. If the wind is out of control, what do you think will happen to your burn pile?
--Have a hose that can reach all the way around the burn pile ready, as well as a shovel or extinguisher nearby. Beforehand, wet the area around the burn pile to minimize the spread. Sometimes, you might be better off burning after it rains. Just put a tarp over the what you want to burn (you take measures to protect your firewood, don't you?). It is easier to prevent the spread than it is to fight it when it gets out of control.
--Watch your use of accelerants. I know everyone uses gas/diesel to "help" the fire out. This can cause the fire to spread quickly or burn you in the process. Also, be careful of what you burn. Burn yard matter, put the rest in the trash. Realize, some things, when burned, pollute the environment or make a chemical worse than the original material. Another thing to avoid is pressurized containers since they tend to explode under the pressures of heating.
--Finally, stay outside with your fire. If you keep an eye on it, the fire is less likely to get away from you.
If you pay attention and plan ahead, you will be spared some headaches. Besides that, I am sure laying in a hammock on a sunny day is a much more fun way to spend your summer days...