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The Smith County Communications Office strives to promote transparency by providing the public with the most accurate, accessible and up-to-date information possible while promoting the county's brand and message of "Striving for Excellence."


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Located on the first floor of the Smith County Annex Building
200 E. Ferguson, Suite 100
Tyler, Texas 75702

Phone: 903-590-4607
Email: Casey Murphy

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County News

Smith County Issues Burn Ban

The Smith County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday, September 10, to issue a burn ban for the county.

Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks said the little amount of rain the area saw on Monday did not give the county any relief.

As of Tuesday, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) for Smith County was at 714, he said. Used to determine forest fire potential, the KBDI ranges from 0 to 800. In the past, Smith County has issued a burn ban when the drought index falls around 700.

Brooks added that there were 36 grass fires in Smith County over the last week. Brooks recommended that the Commissioners Court issue the “Order Prohibiting Outdoor Burning.”

“I think issuing a burn ban is the way we need to go for safety purposes,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said.

Brooks said he thinks the rise in humidity this week is temporary, considering the season.

The Commissioners Court approved an order issuing the burn ban, determining that circumstances within the county created a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning. Outdoor burning is prohibited for 90 days, unless restrictions are lifted sooner.

“We are very cautious about the business impact of issuing a burn ban,” Commissioner Jeff Warr said. “We are careful about watching the conditions.”

Moran said they have held out as long as they could and are one of last counties in the area to do it.

Anyone needing more information about available assistance, or anyone with questions related to the burn ban, call the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office at 903-590-2655.  

 

Smith County Burn Ban Restrictions – What You Can and Can’t Do

Actions Prohibited:  A person violates this order if he or she burns any combustible material outside of an incorporated city limits, or orders such burning by others.

Combustible materials include, but are not limited to, the use of all fireworks; all tobacco products which are discarded, still burning; the use of burn barrels, fire pits, campfires, and any other activity that could result in an outdoor fire.

It does not include the use of vessels specifically designed for the preparation of food that contain all open flames and flammable materials and have enclosed lids.

ALL persons welding outdoors must notify and register with the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office at 903-590-2652 before beginning operations.  After 5 p.m. and weekends, call 903-566-6600.

Welding Operations shall be prohibited with the exception of welding operations conducted under the following guidelines:

  1. A 30’ area clear of any combustible materials where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed;
  2. A 30’ area clear of any combustible materials is required with an enclosure that is covered;
  3. Anything elevated above 20’ - the radius will increase by two feet for every elevated foot;
  4. Surface around area will be wetted down;
  5. Wind Speed must be less than 15 mph (maximum);
  6. Relative humidity must be above 30 percent;                       
  7. One fire guard watching with pressurized extinguishers on site for every person welding, cutting, or grinding; 
  8. Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response;
  9. All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box,” that is sufficiently high enough to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top. Wind speeds must not exceed 30 mph while utilizing an enclosure;

Where welding (above ground and sub-surface) is required in an area where there is potential for a hazardous atmosphere, barriers will be substituted for total enclosures (e.g. “wind walls”) to prevent sparks from coming in contact with any combustible material. The barriers will be installed to allow ventilation of the work area and ingress and egress to the work area for personnel safety. Sub-surface, or “bell hole” welding and grinding operations within approved excavations are allowed if all other mitigation efforts are included.

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