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La Plata County Lifts all Fire Restrictions

posted Jul 19, 2018, 2:20 PM by Ben Sorensen

Please call us for burn permits and call central dispatch prior to control burning.

Board of County Commissioners unanimously approves resolution moving from Stage 3 to Stage 2 fire restrictions, effective immediately.

posted Jul 13, 2018, 6:21 AM by Ben Sorensen

Stage II fire restrictions build on the Stage I restrictions that were adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on May 2 and prohibit the following activities:

• A complete ban of open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning except for the very limited agriculture burning as provided for in C.R.S. 30-15-401(n.5)(III) and defined in C.R.S. 35-28-104(11). 

• Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, stove fire, including but not limited to charcoal grills, coal or wood burning stoves, or sheepherder’s stoves, unless the specific device uses pressurized liquid or gas and includes a shut-off valve (such as a gas grill). 

• Smoking, unless within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building. 

• Welding, pipefitting, metal grinding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame unless the following requirements are met: a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation and all flammable materials, and in addition to the equipment operator, a fire watch individual equipped with one 2 ½ gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or a five-pound ABC extinguisher or a pressurized water supply and proper hand tools must be readily available and on-site to watch for fires. 

• Oil and gas welding and cutting operations, which are required to comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rules for Fire Prevention and Production, Rule 606A(o), may only be conducted within a 20-foot radius safe zone that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials; and

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine, including but not limited to chainsaws, generators and all-terrain vehicles, unless equipped with a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order meeting either Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350 (a); and 

• Operating a chainsaw, unless a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight is in the operator’s immediate vicinity, and one size 0 or larger round, pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches is with fueling supplies and is readily available; and 

• Using an explosive, including but not limited to fireworks, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device. Public fireworks displays for Independence Day will be permitted if they are under the control of local fire departments or licensed fireworks professionals and approved by the local authority having jurisdiction. Blasting in development areas or construction areas with continuous fire watch will be permitted with written authorization of the appropriate fire chief or the sheriff of La Plata County, whomever has jurisdiction; and 

• Flaring for oil and gas production wells and production facilities may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief (or his designee) for that district, or in the event no fire district exists for the location of the proposed flaring, the La Plata County Director of the Office of Emergency Management. Any flaring from established gas processing plants or facilities is exempted.

The restrictions provide flexibility to Sheriff Sean Smith and the fire chiefs to ease restrictions within their respective jurisdictions if they deem doing so to be safe, appropriate and prudent.

La Plata County Enacts Stage 3 Fire Restrictions

posted Jun 12, 2018, 3:19 PM by Ben Sorensen

In the interest of public health, safety and welfare, the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners enacted Stage 3 fire restrictions, effective immediately. This action, which increases the level of fire restrictions in unincorporated areas of the county, was enacted as a result of the increasing fire danger and drought conditions that gave rise to the Stage 1 and Stage 2 fire conditions. The 416 Fire, which ignited on June 1 has hundreds of firefighters assigned, a Type I Incident Management Team, and is still only 15% contained. Resources are limited in the county with local fire department personnel being assigned to the 416 Fire. Fuels are extremely dry and humidity is very low. These Stage 3 measures that the public must take to help eliminate additional fire danger are vital for the safety and welfare of La Plata County.

The fire restrictions will remain in effect until such time as the threat of fire danger in La Plata County has reduced significantly, as determined by Sheriff Smith and local fire chiefs.

The La Plata County Sheriff, acting as fire marshal, and the chiefs of the Durango Fire Protection District, Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, Los Pinos Fire Protection and Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District have recommended that the board enact Stage 3 fire closures and restrictions upon the land owned by La Plata County and private lands unincorporated areas of La Plata County, excluding federal and tribal lands. Stage 3 closures/restrictions are also supported by the forest supervisor of the San Juan National Forest. In addition to the provisions outlined in Stage 1 and Stage 2 , Stage 3 will add the following additional closures/restrictions/ prohibitions:

1. The closure of all La Plata County owned trails, encampments, open space, and unimproved lands.
2. Those agricultural producers exempt from fire bans pursuant to C.R.S. §§ 30-15-401(n.5)(III) and 35-28-104(11) may perform agricultural burning only with 48 hours prior notification to the appropriate fire chief or the Sheriff.
3. Indoor fire places and wood-burning stoves without an approved interior and exterior chimney spark arrestor.
4. The sale, discharge or use of any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device (including 4th of July celebrations).
5. The use of floating sky lanterns, fire balloons or acetylene balloons.
6. Discharge of firearms or the use of exploding targets, unless under the circumstances described in C.R.S. § 30-15-302.
7. Blasting in development areas or construction areas.
8. The use of an explosive, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device, including the use of any model rockets.
9. Flaring for oil and gas production wells.
10. Operation of coal-fired steam engines.

Carryover restrictions from Stage 2 include:

1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, stove fire, including but not limited to charcoal grills, coal or wood or propane burning stoves and firepits, sheepherder’s stoves, unless the specific devices uses pressurized liquid or gas, and includes a shut-off valve.
2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building.
3. Welding, pipefitting, metal grinding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame unless the following requirements are met: written authorization of the appropriate fire chief or the Sheriff of La Plata County, a twenty-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation and all flammable materials, and in addition to the equipment operator, a fire watch individual equipped with one (1) 2 ½ gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or a 5lb. ABC extinguisher or a pressurized water supply and proper hand tools must be readily available and on-site to watch for fires.
4. Oil and gas welding and cutting operations, which are required to comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rules for Fire Prevention and Production, Rule 606A(o), may only be conducted within a 20-foot radius safe zone that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials and with authorization of the appropriate fire chief or the Sheriff of La Plata County.
5. Operating or using any internal combustion engine, including but not limited to chainsaws, generators and all-terrain vehicles, unless equipped with a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and an effective working order meeting either Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350 (a).
6. Operating a chainsaw, unless a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight is in the operator’s immediate vicinity, and one size 0 or larger round, pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches is with fueling supplies and is readily available.

Certain exemptions apply to these prohibitions. They include:

1. Any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
2. Flaring at centralized processing and compressing facilities is permitted so long as all conditions and requirements issued by applicable regulators are satisfied;
3. Emergency repair of public utilities.
4. Fires permitted by the Sheriff or local fire chiefs within their jurisdiction, if, in their professional opinions, such action is appropriate, safe and prudent.

The fire restrictions will go into effect immediately upon approval by the Board and will apply to the unincorporated areas of La Plata County, excluding those private lands in the towns of Bayfield and Ignacio, city of Durango or any federal and tribal Lands.

There are four fire districts in La Plata County. For specific information about the fire restrictions, contact your local fire department:

• Durango Fire Protection District (for properties in the Animas valley corridor from the north county line to New Mexico), call 382-6000;
• Upper Pine Fire Protection District (for properties east of Bayfield north to Vallecito), call 
884-9508;
• Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District (for properties in west La Plata County surrounding Hesperus to the Colorado/New Mexico state line on Highway 140), call 238-0115; or
• Los Pinos Fire Protection District (for properties in the southeast corner of La Plata County and surrounding Ignacio), please call 563-9501.

For specific questions relating to the 416 Fire, there is a community hotline at (970)385-8700.

During these exceptional drought conditions, emergency notifications regarding fire and other incidents can provide citizens with critical information. Sign up for CodeRED to receive evacuation notices and other updates via cell phone or email: http://bit.ly/CodeRed_signup.

La Plata County Enacts Stage 2 fire restrictions

posted Jun 5, 2018, 8:39 PM by Ben Sorensen

Commissioners enact Stage 2 fire restrictions

In the interest of public health, safety and welfare, the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners today enacted Stage II fire restrictions effective Friday, June 1 in the unincorporated areas of La Plata County and on all lands owned by La Plata County excluding those private lands in the towns of Bayfield and Ignacio, the city of Durango, or any federal or tribal lands. 

This winter, snowfall in the Animas River basin was less than 40% of average, and this week, Southwest Colorado's snowpack is just 3% of historic average. We have been experiencing above-average temperatures, hot dry winds with low humidity and very little rain this spring. As of May 29, the weather station at the Durango-La Plata County Airport had recorded 1.41 inches of precipitation in 2018, nearly 4 inches below the historic average for that time period. 

In April, these factors prompted La Plata County to be classified in “exceptional drought” conditions – the most intense of five drought levels. These drought conditions have persisted and the fuels (grass, brush and trees) in La Plata County are extremely dry and can produce explosive fire growth and behavior. 

Stage II fire restrictions build on the Stage I restrictions that were adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on May 2 and prohibit the following activities:

• A complete ban of open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning except for the very limited agriculture burning as provided for in C.R.S. 30-15-401(n.5)(III) and defined in C.R.S. 35-28-104(11). 

• Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, stove fire, including but not limited to charcoal grills, coal or wood burning stoves, or sheepherder’s stoves, unless the specific device uses pressurized liquid or gas and includes a shut-off valve (such as a gas grill). 

• Smoking, unless within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building. 

• Welding, pipefitting, metal grinding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame unless the following requirements are met: a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation and all flammable materials, and in addition to the equipment operator, a fire watch individual equipped with one 2 ½ gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or a five-pound ABC extinguisher or a pressurized water supply and proper hand tools must be readily available and on-site to watch for fires. 

• Oil and gas welding and cutting operations, which are required to comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rules for Fire Prevention and Production, Rule 606A(o), may only be conducted within a 20-foot radius safe zone that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials; and

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine, including but not limited to chainsaws, generators and all-terrain vehicles, unless equipped with a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order meeting either Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350 (a); and 

• Operating a chainsaw, unless a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight is in the operator’s immediate vicinity, and one size 0 or larger round, pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches is with fueling supplies and is readily available; and 

• Using an explosive, including but not limited to fireworks, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device. Public fireworks displays for Independence Day will be permitted if they are under the control of local fire departments or licensed fireworks professionals and approved by the local authority having jurisdiction. Blasting in development areas or construction areas with continuous fire watch will be permitted with written authorization of the appropriate fire chief or the sheriff of La Plata County, whomever has jurisdiction; and 

• Flaring for oil and gas production wells and production facilities may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief (or his designee) for that district, or in the event no fire district exists for the location of the proposed flaring, the La Plata County Director of the Office of Emergency Management. Any flaring from established gas processing plants or facilities is exempted.

The restrictions provide flexibility to Sheriff Sean Smith and the fire chiefs to ease restrictions within their respective jurisdictions if they deem doing so to be safe, appropriate and prudent.

There are four fire districts in La Plata County. For specific information about the fire restrictions, contact your local fire department:

• Durango Fire Protection District (for properties in the Animas valley corridor from the north county line to New Mexico), call 382-6000;
• Upper Pine Fire Protection District (for properties east of Bayfield north to Vallecito), call 
884-9508;
• Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District (for properties in west La Plata County surrounding Hesperus to the Colorado/New Mexico state line on Highway 140), call 238-0115; or
• Los Pinos Fire Protection District (for properties in the southeast corner of La Plata County and surrounding Ignacio), please call 563-9501.

Fire response agencies in La Plata County will continue to monitor the situation may develop a more restrictive fire ban if conditions deteriorate. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until such time as the threat of fire danger in La Plata County has reduced significantly, as determined by Sheriff Smith and local fire chiefs. 

During these exceptional drought conditions, emergency notifications regarding fire and other incidents can provide citizens with critical information. Sign up for CodeRED to receive evacuation notices and other updates via cell phone or email: http://bit.ly/CodeRed_signup.

La Plata County Enacts Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

posted May 1, 2018, 6:12 PM by Ben Sorensen   [ updated May 1, 2018, 6:18 PM ]

On May 1, the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners enacted restrictions effective immediately on open burning in the unincorporated private land areas of La Plata County. The fire restrictions were enacted by the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners upon the recommendation of Sheriff Sean Smith and the chiefs of the local fire districts.

 

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has enacted similar Stage I fire restrictions for Tribal lands. The San Juan National Forest and Bureau of Land Management’s Tres Rios Field Office has enacted fire restrictions effective May 1.

 

Southwest Colorado is currently experiencing exceptional drought conditions. The area only received 40 percent of the normal snowpack this winter and has experienced multiple fires daily since April 1. Current predictions indicate that these conditions will extend or worsen throughout the summer.

 

The fire restrictions prohibit open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning on private property in the unincorporated private land areas of La Plata County.  The use of a campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal grill or open fire in any undeveloped area is prohibited.  The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires in suitable containers or gas grills for barbeques at private residences or fires within designated campground pits with protective grates; however, residents and visitors alike must not to leave these fires unattended and must carefully and fully extinguish them after use. 

 

The open flame prohibitions also include the following:

• Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas and 3-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation

• Fireworks are prohibited

• Use of explosive material is prohibited

• Use of any internal combustion engine is prohibited unless it is equipped with an approved and functioning spark-arresting device

• Welding and cutting operations must be conducted with a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation without a 2.5 gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or 5 lb. ABC extinguisher or pressurized water supply and proper hand tools on site with a fire watch individual standing by continuously; and

• Flaring for production wells may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief.

Open Burning

posted May 16, 2016, 11:11 AM by Office Admin   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:20 AM ]

In La Plata County, burn permits are required for any open burning that is not agricultural or recreational. Fort Lewis Mesa Fire normally issues burn permits Monday -Thursday from 12:30-4:30 by calling 970-238-0115. Alternatively, FLMFPD has an on-line application for a permit that can be filled out at any time for processing during the work week. 

Once you have been issued a permit and are intending to burn, you must call in to Durango Non-Emergency Dispatch (970-385-2900) to notify them that you are burning.


Recreational Fires: A camp fire that is smaller than 3’x3’ and is contained is considered a recreational fire.

Agricultural Fires: To be considered agricultural, the burning must be related to agricultural practices. Agricultural burning is not regulated, but is not recommended on Red Flag warning days and is prohibited during burn bans.

People conducting non-regulated burns are urged to call Dispatch (970-285-2900) to report the burning to prevent the fire department from unnecessarily responding to a report of a potential uncontrolled fire.

If you do not have a permit and conduct an open burning or violate a burn ban, the Sheriff’s office can issue a fine.

Burn permits are suspended on Red Flag days and during burn bans. 

Complete regulations regarding Open Burning can be found on our Open Burning Permit page.

FLMFPD Mourns Loss of Pam Ramsey

posted May 13, 2016, 7:50 PM by Office Admin   [ updated May 16, 2016, 6:31 AM ]

On May 9, 2016, Pam Ramsey, long time member of the fire department family, passed away at her home. Pam was an early member of the department, one of the local “dispatchers”, a member of the “Day Shift”, and involved in the Auxiliary. Married to long-time volunteer firefighter/EMT Doug, Pam held down the fort at home while also supporting the department in many different ways.

We extend our sympathy to her family which includes her husband Doug, daughter Cassie, and son Travis, all of who are  members of the Fort Lewis Mesa fire department family. Durango Herald obituary here. 

 

The Day Shift - Pam is third from left.

A/C Vogel Mentors Big Picture Student

posted May 12, 2016, 1:40 PM by Office Admin   [ updated May 13, 2016, 7:52 PM ]

Once again, Assistant Chief Garrett Vogel mentored Big Picture High School student Ty Thorshiem on aspects of fire department operations. This is Garrett's and Ty's second year in the program which built on the fundamentals that were studied in 2014/2015. Ty has career aspirations to become a firefighter.

Students at Durango Big Picture High School spend two days a week in the community learning through internships. Students learn in a real-world setting from a mentor who shares their passion

Stephen Stovall Sworn In as Newest Board Member

posted Jun 16, 2015, 11:53 AM by Office Admin

At the May 12 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District (FLMFPD), local resident Stephen Stovall (Steve) was sworn in as the newest member of the board. 

Steve and his wife Denise have lived in the District since 1999. Steve has a long history of with the volunteer fire service including four years in the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department and ten with Animas and DFRA. Missing active duty with the volunteer service, Steve sought to serve the district as a Board Member.

Congratulations and welcome, Steve!

District ISO Rating Changes

posted Apr 9, 2015, 11:33 AM by Office Admin

Earlier this year, Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District underwent a normal periodic review by ISO to determine our District’s Public Protection Classification rating. We are pleased to announce that our district’s rating is a 6/6X. Properties within 5 road miles of a recognized fire station and within 1000 feet of a fire hydrant or alternate water supply are rated at 6. All other properties are rated at 6X.

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