Resident concerned about changes to open burn permits

Carson City Fire Department

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A relatively new permitting procedure for open burns in Carson City has raised concerns of a resident who worries about a lack of tracking.

“The only way is someone calls 911 or the fire department to report smoke,” said Glenn Bush, who lives on Gentry Lane. “At that time, they must take a fire truck out and find the fire location. What a waste of time and money.”

Bush, 87, first noted his concerns in a letter to the Appeal that said the new procedure – based online during the COVID-19 pandemic – doesn’t require personal information and thus leaves the Carson City Fire Department not knowing who is burning and where. In a statement about the issue, CCFD officials acknowledged changes to the permitting process but said they still had to investigate most smoke calls even under the old system.

“Carson City Fire Department modified the burn permit process in 2020 due to COVID,” reads the statement. “Prior to COVID, burn permits were issued at the fire department. The permit contained the name of the property owner, address and contact information. Each day people wishing to burn would call the office. If it was a burn day, we would record who was burning and the location of the burn.

“This information was distributed to our staff and Carson City Emergency Dispatch. Carson City Emergency Dispatch would record the information. If a call was received of ‘smoke in the area,’ etc., dispatch would determine if a dispatch of fire resources was necessary. The majority of the time, a Carson City Fire resource would be dispatched quietly (no red lights or sirens) to investigate.”

CCFD officials further said that now, post-pandemic, dispatch is “always notified of the burn day status.”

“Should they receive a call of smoke in the area or other concerns, as always, the fire department will respond to ensure the safety of our community,” reads the statement.

Bush said he occasionally uses the open burn periods to get rid of unwanted sagebrush on his 1-acre property. He said he preferred the pre-pandemic process that could be done in person and provided a permit number for tracking purposes.

 “When you called into burn, they knew who was burning with all contact information,” he said.

The open burn season this spring ran from March 24 to May 23. After downloading a copy of the permit and printing it, residents had to call the open burn line at 775-283-4776 for an automated recording saying whether burning was authorized on a given day, depending on weather. In a March press release, CCFD said permits were no longer available for walk-ins at the CCFD administrative office. The new permits online required no personal information from those burning.

Bush said he had problems with the automated recordings on the open burn line not being updated. He said as a retiree, he wanted to get burning completed as early in the day as possible but couldn’t get an updated recording when open burning started at 8 a.m. Burning was allowed this spring between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., according to CCFD.

Bush expressed concerns for firefighters having to investigate smoke calls.

“Personally, I think the firefighters should be the first concern of the decision makers,” he said.

For information about open burning, visit or contact the Carson City Fire Prevention Division at s775-283-7153.


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