Thursday, May 16, 2013

Idaho burn permits available online

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) unveiled a new Web site this month, BurnPermits.Idaho.Gov, enabling Idahoans to obtain fire safety burn permits online.

Idaho law (38-115) requires any person living outside city limits anywhere in Idaho who plans to burn anything - including crop residue burning and excluding recreational campfires - during closed fire season to obtain a fire safety burn permit. Closed fire season begins May 10 and extends through October 20 every year.

The fire safety burn permit is free of charge and good for 10 days after it is issued.

Prior to 2013, the law requiring fire safety burn permits was not consistently applied across Idaho because multiple agencies were issuing the permits using manual processes.

Therefore, many residents in southern Idaho - especially growers planning to burn fields - may not even be aware of the law requiring the fire safety burn permit.

Residents and growers in northern Idaho, on the other hand, generally are accustomed to obtaining the fire safety burn permit along with other necessary permits depending on where and what they plan to burn.

Legally, it has always been the responsibility of IDL to administer 38-115 but because most of the IDL fire protection responsibilities and offices are located in north central and northern Idaho, the IDL delegated the authority to issue the fire safety burn permits south of Riggins to the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, federal agencies that have significantly larger fire protection presence in southern Idaho.

In 2012 fire managers revisited the administration of the law and agreed to move the responsibility of issuing all fire safety burn permits statewide under the purview of the IDL, to provide uniform applicability of the law in all parts of Idaho.

The IDL and cooperating agencies developed the online self service system to bring more consistency to the permitting process and make it easier for all Idahoans to comply with the law.

In addition to issuing IDL fire safety burn permits, the new Web site will provide tips for safe burning practices and information about fire restrictions in place. If there are other burning restrictions in effect or additional or alternate permits required, the Web site will provide instructions for Idahoans on how to contact those entities.

The fire safety burn permit system will help inform fire managers where burning activities are occurring, reducing the number of false runs to fires and saving firefighting resources for instances in which they are truly needed. It also enables fire managers to respond more quickly to fires that escape, potentially reducing the liability of the burner if their fire escapes.

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