Bartow, Fla. (March 31, 2017) — Polk County has experienced dry weather conditions for an extensive period of time due to the lack of rainfall, therefore Polk County Fire Rescue has issued a burn ban.
The increase in risk of brush fires and uncontrolled fires are a threat to the public health, safety and general welfare of Polk County. There are also no signs of abatement of these dangerous fire conditions in the near future.
The burn ban includes, but not limited to:
3. Unpermitted controlled burns
4. Burning of yard and household trash
5. Burning of construction debris
6. Burning of organic debris
7. Igniting of fireworks
8. Noncommercial burning of material other than for religious or ceremonial purposes which is not contained in a barbecue grill or barbecue pit and the total fuel area does not exceed 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height.
“We have held off as long as we possibly can on issuing this burn ban,” said Fire Chief Anthony Stravino. “But conditions are favorable for the rapid development and spread of brush fires and we need to take every step necessary to ensure the safety of everyone. We also don’t want anyone to lose property or investments due to fire.”
More than 50 percent of Polk County is averaging over 500 on the Keetch-Byram Drout Index (KBDI). The KBDI index is used as an indicator to determine the likelihood and severity of brush fires. The scale begins at zero, which is no danger and rises to 800, which is extreme danger. As a rule of thumb, fire officials become concerned any time the scale goes above 500 for 50 percent of the county.
While high KBDI values are an indication that conditions are favorable for the occurrence and spread of wildfires, drought is not by itself a prerequisite for such fires. Other weather factors, such as wind, temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric stability, play a major role in determining the actual fire danger.
The burn ban applies to all unincorporated Polk and the following municipalities: Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Eagle Lake, Fort Meade, Haines City, Hillcrest Heights, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, Mulberry, Polk City, Lakeland and Dundee.
“Any person who refuses to comply or violates this burn ban shall be in violation of County Ordinance 08-015, and can be punished by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment by a term not to exceed 60 days in the county jail or both.”