The Planted Row: Too dry to play with fire

Farm Forum

At this month’s Aberdeen-area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee meeting, Brown County Director of Emergency Management Scott Meints spoke about fire awareness. Due to drought conditions, Brown County is currently under a burn ban. So are a lot of other counties in South Dakota. Meints said camp fires are currently allowed in Brown County as long as they are contained by a structure like a fire pit. However, all other fires are banned. With lots of dry grass and high winds, grass fires can spread rapidly in the Dakotas.

Meints said he still gets calls every day from people asking for permission to burn. Callers might want to think again before lighting a match. For one, that can get you in trouble with the law. Also, any person who starts a fire during a burn ban can be held responsible for all the costs associated with efforts to contain and extinguish the fire as well as any damage to structures or crops caused by the fire. Meints said costs can accumulate quickly with several different fire departments responding to a fire.

So until we get some rain and the burn ban is lifted, now is probably not the time for farmers to clear areas of grass or brush with fire.

Meints also made committee members aware of a program called Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Every year Brown County offers a CERT course for residents. According to the Brown County website, it’s “a 22-hour course, consisting of both classroom instruction and hands-on practical drills.” The course teaches participants basic skills that might be needed in an emergency, such as how to disconnect utilities, how to put out small fires, how to splint a broken bone and offer basic medical aid, how to search for and rescue missing people, and how to aid professional responders in an emergency. Any county resident 12 years of age or older is eligible to take the course.

Meints said that Brown County has five teams of people who can be called for assistance in the case of an emergency. CERT course participants who decide to join one of these teams will receive additional training and agree to be available any time, day or night, in an emergency situation.

Meints said he’s had all types of people take the course, including elderly women. When my son is old enough, I think I’ll take the course with him so that we can better help our neighbors in the event of severe weather, a fire or a flood.

If you are interested in the CERT program and do not live in Brown County, I suggest you contact your county government to find out if they offer a similar course.

Farm Forum 50 Photo Challenge Series

To help celebrate our 50th anniversary, the Farm Forum is partnering with Capture Dakota to publish a book showcasing the work of area photographers. As part of this process, Capture Dakota is hosting photography challenges. Users can submit their photos and rate the photos submitted by others. The people’s choice and editor’s choice winners for each challenge will receive a $25 gift card, and their winning photos will be printed in our book. We’ve already completed the Barns and Buildings challenge, as well as the Farm Animals challenge. We are currently accepting photos for the Farm Kids challenge. To submit your own photo and vote on other submissions, visit Photos for this challenge must be submitted by 12 a.m. on June 21.

Contest winner

This week’s Farm Forum 50th anniversary cash giveaway contest winner is Kevin Raugutt of Edgeley, N.D. He will receive a replica windmill and is eligible to win the $5,000 cash grand prize. Prizes are mailed at the end of each month.