Chiefs looking at unified fire prevention ordinance


Dubois County’s 12 fire chiefs are looking for the county to have one unified fire prevention ordinance.

The ordinance would outline the fire safety rules and regulations that are in place and address needed rules that are not yet in writing.

“We’ve got several ordinances in places: open burns, burn bans, fireworks, address identification,” Ryan Wineinger, chief of the Celestine Volunteer Fire Department, told the Dubois County Commissioners earlier this month. “There’s several out there that are old and need updating. And there are a lot of items in this that have never been addressed. So the idea was [to] put this together.”

The fire chiefs have been discussing the idea for the last two years, Wineinger said. They have been working on the proposed document with the Dubois County Emergency Management Agency for the last year. It was built from a template from the Indiana Division of Fire and Building Safety.

“It’s to keep the county united and to keep everybody in the same page,” EMA Director Tammy Humbert said Wednesday. “And it gives a little bit of enforcement over things, such as burn bans and open burning laws.”

The proposed ordinance outlines various fire safety provisions, such as rules for fireworks, open burnings, safety equipment like sprinkler systems and fire protection systems, emergency vehicle lanes, and having buildings properly marked with addresses. The proposal gives details on what is allowed and not allowed under each safety provision, and outlines penalties for violating the rules.

“This is a way to get all of those into one document,” Wineinger said. “It’s easier to maintain, easier to get out to the public in trying to make it easy for them to find it, identify it and use it.”

With the proposed ordinance, the county’s law enforcement agencies and the fire departments can effectively work together in upholding fire prevention and safety measures.

“It’s to have us all doing the exact same thing,” Humbert said.

Wineinger gave the commissioners scenarios in which the ordinance would come in handy.

“We go out to complaints about burnings during the burn ban or [about] fireworks and contact the police. And they say there’s really nothing we can enforce because those ordinances themselves don’t include penalties, fines, whatnot,” he said. “So that’s another item that is built in here. We’ve actually got something to fall back on.

“We want to do away with these numerous complaints, repeat offenders basically.”

All 12 fire chiefs agree with having the unified ordinance, Humbert said.

“A county ordinance is the best route to go and instead of turning it over to each individual fire department, all 12 work together, help each other out and fall under the county guidelines, to keep it all in one voice,” Humbert said.

The commissioners said they wanted to review the document and discuss it at their next meeting, which is Monday. But because of the current rules of not having more than 10 people gathered together, the commissioners have moved that discussion to their May 4 meeting.

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