- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - It turns out that even a fire marshal can be caught unaware of fire regulations.

For years, Frederick County has been violating a state regulation that prohibits open burning in parts of Virginia during the summer, The Winchester Star reports (https://bit.ly/1RjOfOv).

Frederick County deputy fire chief and fire marshal John “Jay” Bauserman said his department did not know about the regulation.

“Our division wasn’t notified,” he said. “I just know that I’ve never been made aware of it.”

The regulation has been in effect since 2004, when the state established a Volatile Organic Compounds Emissions Control Area. Localities in the control area, which includes Frederick County, can’t issue open burning permits from May through September.

Frederick County has allowed open burning of construction debris and other waste year-round, issuing an average of 15 burn permits annually over the past four years, Bauserman said. The three-month permits cost $25 dollars each.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality discovered Frederick County was violating the regulation when an inspector noticed open burning by a contractor, said Keith Fowler, the department’s deputy regional director. The contractor, Warrenton-based General Excavation, showed the inspector its county-issued permit.

“I don’t know why they were unaware of (the regulation),” Fowler said. “Most county and city fire officials are aware of the DEQ’s regulation for open burning.”

The environmental department will be meeting with the county next week to make sure officials don’t issue any more open burn permits, Fowler said. He said he is unaware of any penalties the county may face.

The open burning regulation does not apply to backyard barbecues, residential cooking or warming fires.

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Information from: The Winchester Star, https://www.winchesterstar.com

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