County Fire Warden: Avoiding Another 4th of July Like Last Year

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Photo from the Tipton Fire, one of the fires Sweetwater County Fire responded to in 2017.

GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian presented a briefing on the 2017 fire season and the department activities at today’s Sweetwater County Commissioners meeting.

Bournazian presented numbers for the types of incidents his department faced in 2017. First and foremost on his mind was the upcoming Fourth of July.

“Fourth of July was one of the craziest I’ve ever experienced in 31 years of firefighting. I am not looking forward to another Fourth of July like that,” said Bournazian. “However, when we allow fireworks to be legal in our county, we can expect it to be challenging.”

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Bournazian said his department was challenged to the point of running out of people to respond to all the fires at the same time. “That was a problem,” said Bournazian.

The county fire warden said he was working with other fire chiefs and fire departments in the county and already discussing plans on how they can try to improve upon last year.
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Fireworks on Public Land

Commissioner Reid West mentioned that it is currently illegal to set off fireworks on county land, BLM land, and inside the city limits.

Bournazian said that 90% of the issues they had were people using fireworks on public lands where it’s not allowed or on private property without the express consent of the landowners.

“We are one of the few counties that do not ban the use of fireworks on private property and also one of the few counties that sell fireworks within the county,” said Bournazian. He said they expect to have the same challenges again in the week leading up to and the week following the Fourth of July.
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A Law Enforcement Issue

John Kolb said that it’s a law enforcement issue. “It’s almost like the police saying nobody should have guns because it makes my job easier. Folks need to be educated to not set off fireworks on public lands and take responsibility–which they don’t.”

As a clarifying point, Bournazian said he did not ever say that he was wanting to ban fireworks. “But merely the fact that we allow them here poses a great challenge for us during that two week time period,” he said.

“The Fourth of July is our greatest challenge. We are trying to find ways to better respond to that,” said Bournazian.

“I can’t help but think that if there was more enforcement of it…people being ticketed,” said West. “I never hear of anyone.”
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2017 By the Numbers

Major Incident Type

  • Fires – 52 incidents
  • Rescue & Emergency Medical Service – 7 incidents
  • Hazardous Condition (No Fire) – 5 incidents
  • Service Call – 3 incidents
  • Good Intent Call – 26 incidents
  • False Alarm & False Call – 13 incidents
  • Severe Weather & Natural Disaster – 2 incidents

*Good intention calls are usually people passing on an interstate reporting smoke, steam, or flare associated with mining or industry.
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Detailed Breakdown

  • Fire/Other – 1 incident
  • Building Fire – 2 incidents
  • Road Freight or Transport Vehicle Fire – 3 incidents
  • Rail Vehicle Fire – 1 incident
  • Natural Vegetation Fire – 39 incidents
  • Forest, Woods, or Wildland Fire – 5 incidents
  • Special Outside Fire – 1 incident
  • Medical Assist/Assist EMT Crew – 1 incident
  • Motor Vehicle Accident With Injuries – 4 incidents
  • Motor Vehicle Accident No Injuries – 2 incidents
  • Hazardous Condition – 2 incidents
  • Gasoline/Flammable Liquid Spill – 1 incident
  • Gas Leak – 1 incident
  • Oil/Combustible Liquid Spill – 1 incident
  • Service Call – 1 incident
  • Cover Assignment/Standby/Moveup – 2 incidents
  • Dispatched & Cancelled en Route – 23 incidents
  • No Incident Found on Arrival – 1 incident
  • Prescribed Fire – 2 incidents
  • False Alarm/False Call – 13 incidents
  • Floor Assessment – 2 incidents
  • Total Incidents – 108