New burn law stoking fears for fire chiefs
A new Oklahoma law authorizing “prescribed burns” for agricultural purposes during official burn bans has Weatherford Fire Chief Mike Karlin very concerned.
Karlin voiced some of his fears at the June 20 meeting of Custer County commissioners. They are primarily of two types: first, that any burning would be permitted at all during a burn ban, which itself means conditions are already very bad; and second, that the law will create confusion and acrimony between neighbors which could cost rural fire departments the backing of key supporters.
The new law, House Bill 2646, becomes effective Nov. 1. It passed both the Oklahoma House and Senate overwhelmingly in late May and was signed into law May 27 by Gov. Mary Fallin. Final votes were 44-0 in the Senate and 90-1 in the House, with Rep. Mike Brown – a Democrat from Tahlequah – the only dissenter.