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Summit County Government

Posted on: June 18, 2020

County, Fire Districts Urge Caution and Diligence During Wildfire Season

A fire device with an ember screen in a backyard.

New unified fire code requires permits for all wood and charcoal fire devices on private property; Dillon Ranger District of White River National Forest has Stage 1 Fire Restrictions in place

Contact: Julie Sutor, Director of Communications, Summit County

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County and local fire districts all urged caution as the community enters into wildfire season. The agencies emphasized that a new unified fire code requires permits for recreational fires on private property.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed a great deal of our collective attention and energy," Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said. "But that doesn’t mean our vulnerability to wildfire has gone away. Wildfire prevention and mitigation need to have a prominent place on our radar."

In January 2020, the Summit County Board of Commissioners and the towns of Silverthorne, Frisco, Dillon, Breckenridge and Blue River approved and adopted a fire code that contains year-round requirements for residents and property owners to obtain a permit for recreational fires.

The Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest has enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. No campfires are allowed in undeveloped areas on the Dillon Ranger District. Fires are allowed in designated metal fire rings in developed campgrounds.

Both U.S. Forest Service Stage 1 Fire Restrictions and Summit County’s new year-round fire code prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire, except for agricultural and slash-burn piles that are conducted with the necessary permits, under appropriate fire-danger conditions and with strict requirements for continuous monitoring.

Summit County residents and property owners can obtain a permit for recreational fires from their local fire district, as long as the fire is contained within a commercially manufactured outdoor fireplace or chimenea that has an ember screen, or in a fire pit with ember screen. Natural gas and propane-fueled fire tables and fireplaces that have on/off switches do not require a permit from the local fire district.

Residents of the Summit Fire & EMS response area (Copper, Dillon, Frisco, Keystone, Montezuma, Summit Cove, Silverthorne, Wildernest, Mesa Cortina and the Lower Blue Valley) may apply for a free permit at https://www.communityconnect.io/info/co-summit. Residents of the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District (greater Breckenridge area, from Farmer’s Korner to Hoosier Pass) may apply for a free permit at https://www.communityconnect.io/info/co-breckenridge. The permitting process in both fire districts includes an on-site inspection, so residents are encouraged to plan ahead and allow sufficient time for the inspection.

"This new permitting system allows Summit County residents to have a backyard fire in a safe and responsible manner," Summit County Emergency Management Director Brian Bovaird said. "Previously, when we went into Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, recreational fires on private property were not allowed. Now we have many common-sense restrictions on fire activity all year round, while letting people enjoy a small fire safely. This new approach is a great step forward for our wildfire prevention efforts, and it streamlines and unifies all the fire regulations across jurisdictions in the county."

The following activities are prohibited under USFS Stage 1 fire restrictions and Summit County’s year-round fire code:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire
  • Use of fireworks
  • Use of tracer ammunition
  • Use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material or other flammable chemical substance
  • Use of recreational explosives, including explosive targets
  • Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including any cigarette, cigar or match.

The following activities are allowed under USFS Stage 1 Fire Restrictions and Summit County’s year-round fire code:

  • Fires in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas.
  • Fires on private property if contained within a commercially designed and manufactured outdoor fireplace or portable outdoor fireplace (including chimeneas) that is assembled, located and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Any such device must also meet the following criteria:
    • The resident or property owner has obtained a valid permit from the local fire district.
    • The device must be equipped with a protective screen that reduces the spread of embers.
    • The area directly underneath the fire is barren.
    • The fire is at least 15 feet from any flammable material or structure.
    • The size of the fire is no larger than 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall.
    • Only nontoxic fuel sources such as wood or charcoal may be burned.

Recreational fires are discouraged during periods of high fire danger. Any of the allowed fire uses and activities must be conducted with the following safety measures in place:

  • The fire must be constantly attended by a responsible adult.
  • The fire must be extinguished and cool to the touch prior to it being left unattended.
  • The supervising adult must have available for immediate use a portable 2A10BC fire extinguisher, 5 gallons of water or a charged garden hose.

Under USFS Stage 1 Fire Restrictions and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, the use of gas, charcoal or wood pellet grills are allowed. Wood pile burns are allowed only with all required permits from the local fire protection district and Summit County Environmental Health. Certain restrictions and precautions apply.

Smoking outdoors is allowed under USFS Stage 1 fire restrictions, and Summit County year-round fire code, as long as the individual is at least 3 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials. On U.S. Forest Service lands, smoking is only permitted within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.

Operation of a chainsaw, trimmer, mower or similar internal-combustion-engine-powered equipment is permitted under Summit County year-round fire code as long as the operator is equipped with a 2A10BC fire extinguisher available for immediate use, and the engine is equipped with an approved spark-arresting device. Welding is permitted when the operator has a valid permit, the device is at least 15 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials and a 2A10BC fire extinguisher is available for immediate use.

Red, White and Blue Fire District does not allow slash pile burns, regardless of fire danger, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Slash pile burns are allowed in the Summit Fire & EMS response area, depending on conditions, and with all applicable permits.

Under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, no recreational fires are allowed, whether on private property or USFS land, including campgrounds.

For more information about Summit County’s year-round fire code, or wildfire prevention measures, visit www.SummitCountyCO.gov/wildfire.


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