Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

August 14, 2012

Welding rules attached to county burn ban

By Libby Cluett | lcluett@mineralwellsindex.com

PALO PINTO – The current Palo Pinto County ban on outdoor burning goes through Sept. 11, but on Monday, commissioners upped the ban a notch to a more restrictive order in response to drought and fire conditions.

It remains a violation to burn brush and use combustible material outdoors, such as discarding cigarettes or other flammable materials. Monday’s new order now requires any activity that creates a spark, such as welding, to have a designated spotter and sufficient water or an extinguisher on hand before they work in the field.

In addition, welding and similar activities can be performed only under the following provisions:

• All areas need to be free of vegetation for at least 25 feet in all directions.

• The surface around a welding area will be wetted down.

• Wind speeds must be no more than 20 mph while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures.

• There must be a dedicated fire watch person for each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark.

• Each fire-watch person must have a minimum of one water pressure fire extinguisher.

• Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response.

• All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box,” high enough to control sparks and including a fire retardant cover over the top. Wind speeds must not exceed 30 mph while utilizing an enclosure.

• In an area where there is a potential for a hazardous atmosphere, barriers or “wind walls” will be substituted for total enclosures 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.

The burn ban does not apply to the use of barbeque-type equipment, used strictly for cooking. It also does not apply to outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training, public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations or harvesting agricultural crops.

Violating the order could result in a Class “C” misdemeanor and a fine.

In case of a fire in the county, call 911 or the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Department at (940) 659-2085.

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