Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard. (FP)

The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has received 17 requests for burn permits, of which three were approved; two declined, while the reasons given for the other 12 remain under investigation.

This was disclosed by Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard, as the BFS conducted a controlled burning exercise on a pasture at Golden Grove, St. Philip, yesterday, following an application from the landowner for a burn permit.

The Fire Service (Fees) Order, 2020, which came into effect on April 1, requires that permission be sought and obtained from the BFS to burn rubbish or stuff.  The cost of applications is $150.

“Mr.  Austin applied for a burn permit, and we got his permission to use his property as a testing area,” Mr. Maynard said.

However, he noted that while people were following the new guidelines and were seeking permission to burn, some of the reasons given was simply because “they wanted to burn, but the only problem is the neighbours”.

In addition, he stated that some persons made requests because they were cleaning properties and heaped leaves and rubbish into piles before seeking permission to burn. But, he stressed, in such circumstances, persons were encouraged to compost the waste.

“They are asking for legal permission to burn, but we are not entertaining that. You can’t just burn for the sake of burning,” the Fire Chief stressed, noting that firemen were giving persons who applied for permission useful alternatives to burning.

Those, he said, included composting, packaging the material, or sending it to the landfill.

The Fire Chief suggested turning leaves and rubbish piles into compost rather than burning. (Stock Photo)

Mr. Maynard explained that the number of persons seeking permissions were walk-ins to the various fire stations, in addition to several calls. “Some people even come with the money, but it doesn’t work like that because our decision is made based on an interview and after inspection,” he said.

He explained that when fire officers investigated applications to burn, they wanted to determine if alternatives could be used that would have less of an impact on the public.

The Fire Chief noted that persons granted permission to burn, usually wanted it to clear agricultural land to allow them to plant crops again.

One such person, is Mr. Austin, who said he wanted to get back into farming “in a bigger way”, but noted that the grass on the open field was posing a challenge.

“I contacted the Fire Department and here we are today.  I advise others to contact the Fire Department if they want to burn because the grass burns tremendously fast,” he advised.

Under the new Order, Permits to Burn do not relate to domestic activities among family and friends at their homes, such as backyard barbecues.

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