Despite cooler temperatures and recent moisture in Sisters Country, Fire Chief Roger Johnson would like to remind residents and visitors alike that fire season is not over. Several factors are used to determine the end of fire season including weather, fuel moisture and other factors. Ignoring the regulations in place could be very dangerous. Chief Johnson said, “We are still in fire season and weather forecasts are calling for a couple weeks of warm and dry conditions.” Late summer and early fall can be dangerous wildfire seasons in Sisters Country. On September 9, 2012 the Pole Creek Fire started just West of Sisters. The fire eventually burned over 26,000 acres and filled Sisters with dense smoke for most of September.
In recent years, the Central Oregon Fire Chief’s Association has announced the end of fire season and the start of residential open debris burning around November 1. The typical season runs about six months and concludes generally around Central Oregon’s scheduled Fire Free Days. Fire Free is an annual local program where residents can take their yard debris to local landfill stations for free drop-off.
If you would like to prepare now for the start of open-debris burning in Sisters, you can get signed up for an Outdoor Burn Permit. Last season, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District piloted a new burn permit system. Chief Johnson said, “We are extremely pleased to offer the community a more user-friendly, free, online permitting system enabling users to obtain important information and services online while allowing District staff to track outdoor burns more effectively and disseminate important fire safety information.” A Public Fire Safety cell phone app has also been in development since our launch last season to work in conjunction with this new online burn permit system.
Permits must be obtained online by visiting the District’s website: https://www.sistersfire.com. To register for a permit, your name, street address and phone number are required. Those who do not have internet access can go to the main fire station at 301 South Elm Street in Sisters and use a public access computer to apply, or have District staff sign them up.
This new online system is very user-friendly after initial setup. From the Fire District’s standpoint, safety during open burn season, which typically runs from November 1 to May 31 each year, is of the utmost importance. The online reporting system allows Fire District staff the ability to see who is burning on a daily basis, immediately notify users of changing conditions, message important fire safety information and insure that those planning to burn are aware of the City of Sisters outdoor burn ban, and that the right jurisdiction is being notified of the planned burn.
You will be required to check in each day you wish to burn and specify that you are burning for the day. Open burning can only be conducted with a permit issued by the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District. The requirement to check in each day is based on changing atmospheric and weather conditions such as wind or air dryness. The Fire District’s on-duty Shift Commanders will make a determination before 8 a.m. each day whether burning will be allowed within the District.
The Public Fire Safety app, developed locally, should be available mid-September, prior to the burn season opening. The app will allow users to sign in once on their phone and schedule burn days, and will hopefully offer an even easier experience than what the website will be capable of. We will announce when that is available for download.
For more information about burn permits, please visit the Fire District’s website at https://www.sistersfire.com or call the Administration office at 541-549-0771.