Annual residential burning permits are now $25 per residence, and are required for burning barrels or other outdoor fires.

HOLLY M. GILL - Jefferson County Fire Chief Brian Huff discusses the new fire fees at the Jefferson County Farm Fair last week.
Beginning in the new year, the Jefferson County Fire District began charging fees for most of its services, including fire permits and repeat nuisance calls.

The JCFD Board of Directors adopted the fee schedule at its Nov. 7, 2016, meeting, "but all fees are based on the state of Oregon Fire Code," said Rebecca Keegan, administrative assistant.

"All fire districts within the state are allowed to set fees per the discretion of the chief, or allow no burning within that district," she noted. "Chief (Brian) Huff and the board have chosen to use the base fee schedule provided by the state of Oregon."

Those who want to burn in a burning barrel or have an open burn are required to purchase a $25 annual residential burning permit or $50 commercial burning permit at the fire hall.

Prior to burning, Keegan recommends that people call the burn line, at 541-475-1789, to listen to the recorded message, which changes, depending on weather conditions.

If someone fails to purchase a permit, the fire department has the ability to charge a $200 general violation fee and issue a citation. After a second violation, the department may also notify the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

"With all of the regulations required on the fire district by state of Oregon law, it is a very challenging situation," said Brian Huff, fire chief. "If we don't regulate things, the state could choose to step in; the district could be held liable for not addressing outdoor burning."

"There are many people who think that burning garbage is okay because the garbage company charges too much," he explained. "We get to spend many hours, often late at night, dealing with the complaints."

Other permits that may be required include a $50 fireworks public display; $50 special event permit for areas up to 12,000 square feet, or $100 for areas over 12,000 square feet; and pyrotechnic or flaming art permits for $50.

If an illegal burn results in an out-of-control fire, or requires specialized suppression because of illegal material being burned, the fire department may seek full reimbursement, and may issue a citation.

The district also responds to catastrophic fires, such as the Cove canyon fire, which occurred on Aug. 29, 2015, and was caused by carelessness with fire, he added.

"We will continue, as we have in the past, to issue a warning for first-time violators, but yes, we have the ability to charge fees and cite people into court for violations of state laws regarding outdoor burning and the fire code," said Huff.

"The public education effort to try to get the word out regarding the safe outdoor burning practices is again mandated by state laws, but they do allow for cost recovery," he said. "We are trying to educate our citizens on how to be safe with fire without having to cut a position or a service we provide."

The Jefferson County Fire District has five paid firefighters and numerous volunteers. "We are challenged every day with staffing issues," said Huff. "It takes approximately 12 firefighters on the scene of an average fire to meet all of the national standards."

Although initial fire inspections are performed at no cost, the fee schedule specifies a $50 fee for a reinspection if a violation is not corrected; $100 for a second reinspection; $200 for a third reinspection; $400 for a fourth reinspection; and citations issued for continuing violations.

The district updated its fees for fire and rescue standby for private or for-profit companies or events, and nonresident vehicle accidents to full reimbursement. False or nuisance alarms after two in a six-month period will result in a $200 fee, and possibly a citation.

For more information on the fees, contact the Jefferson County Fire Department at 541-475-7274.

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