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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

Update: Smith County Burn Ban Lifted

October 11 Update:

Because of recent rains, Smith County has lifted the burn ban on Friday, October 11, 2019.

“Based on the rain we have received today and the associated drop in the KDBI index in the past few days, there is no longer a need for a county-wide burn ban,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran.

He encouraged residents to always use caution when burning.

Judge Moran signed an order Friday to lift the burn ban and allow outdoor burning.

Assistant Smith County Fire Marshal Chad Hogue said the KDBI was at 701 on Friday morning, and he expected it to drop significantly by Saturday after Friday’s rains.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is used to determine forest fire potential. The KBDI ranges from 0 to 800.

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.

 

October 1 Update: 

The amount of grass fires in Smith County has gone down since the Commissioners Court issued a burn ban three weeks ago, but there have been 85 reports of illegal burns since then.

Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks gave an update to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

He said since enacting a burn ban on September 10, there have been 85 reports of illegal burns. Many warnings have been given but his office is now issuing citations, he said.

Only 40 grass fires have been reported in the last three weeks – a decreasing number since the burn ban was issued, he said.

Although some portions of the county have received rain, the county as a whole did not receive enough to lift the burn ban. In fact, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) for Smith County has risen from 714 to 729, 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.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of Smith County is now listed as being in a severe drought, Brooks said.

“We want folks to be very diligent of what they’re doing outdoors,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “We want to lift the burn ban as quickly as possible … and we will lift the burn ban as soon as we can.”

Brooks agreed.

Most people who have been caught burning illegally claim to not have known about the burn ban, Brooks said, adding that it has been an educational experience.

Since the Commissioners Court issued the burn ban on September 10, outdoor burning is prohibited for 90 days, unless restrictions are lifted sooner.

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 and 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-foot area clear of any combustible materials where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed;
  2. A 30-foot area clear of any combustible materials is required with an enclosure that is covered;
  3. Anything elevated above 20 feet - the radius will increase by 2 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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