Fire chiefs concerned about ban

By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

Residents living in Roosevelt County wishing to perform a controlled burn must have fire departments on stand-by as part of the ban that was kept intact by county commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday.

Local area fire departments are concerned with the issue of stand-by’s for a couple of reasons; the main reason being the issue of liability.

“It’s better if we don’t do (stand-bys) because that puts the liability on the fire department,” said Floyd Fire Department Chief Leland Terry. “If the fire does get out of hand and we can’t control it and something is burned, then we’d possibly be held liable.”

Terry added throughout the years it’s been recommended by the state fire marshal not to respond to stand-by calls.

Dora Fire Department Chief Paul Luscombe said he was in favor of the ban because he feels the county isn’t doing any better as far as moisture is concerned.

However, he’s unsure as to how the department will handle stand-by calls.

Luscombe has some of the same concerns as Terry but said he would rather respond to the call prior to it becoming an emergency instead of after it’s too late.

“If we can have some control over preventing it from being an emergency then that’s far better than the (potential) loss of property or livestock or anything else,” Luscombe said.

Another concern over the stand-by issue is the amount of time each call would require from the departments.

Portales Fire Department Chief Raul Muniz said they can’t respond to those calls mainly for that reason.

“It’s our position that we can’t stand-by while persons are burning and the reason we can’t do it is very simple, we don’t have the manpower or the revenue do it,” Muniz said.

Muniz mentioned residents can utilize the volunteer fire departments such as Floyd and Dora, however because they are volunteer, responding to every stand-by call can tax their resources.

“If we go to everybody that calls us to be there it may be a problem for us to even have time to be able to do it because we are all volunteers,” Terry said.

Roosevelt County Commissioner Gene Creighton said until there is enough regular rain in the county the ban will be in place. His own solution to stand-by calls is simple.

“They just don’t have to take them, if they can do it most of them would be happy to but if they can’t, if they’re busy or just can’t do it then it will just have to be put off,” Creighton said.

He added it’s not mandatory for the fire departments to respond to a stand-by call.